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First Edition March 1911 
Reprinted November 1911, 1912, 1913 
1914, 1919, 1920, 1922 



In the writing of this English translation of Professor 
Bergson’s most important work, 1 was helped by the 
friendly interest of Professor William James, to whom 
I owe the illumination of much that was dark to me 
as well as the happy rendering of certain words and 
phrases for which an English equivalent was difficult 
to find. His sympathetic appreciation of Professor 
Bergson’s thought is well known, and he has expressed 
his admiration for it in one of the chapters of 4 Plural- 
istic Universe. It was his intention, had he lived to 
see the completion of this translation, himself to intro- 
duce it to English readers in a prefatory note. 

I wish to thank my friend, Dr. George Clarke Cox, 
for many valuable suggestions. 

I have endeavoured to follow the text as closely as 
possible, and at the same time to preserve the living 
union of diction and thought. Professor Bergson has 
himself carefully revised the whole work. We both 
of us wish to acknowledge the great assistance of Miss 
Millicent Murby. She has kindly studied the trans- 
lation phrase by phrase, weighing each werd, and her 
revision has resulted in many improvements. 

But above all we must express our acknowledgment 


to Mr. H. Wildon Carr, the Honorary Secretary of 
the Aristotelian Society of London, and the writer of 
several studies of “ Evolution Créatrice.”! We asked 
him to be kind enough to revise the proofs of our 
work. He has done much more than revise them: 
they have come from his hands with his personal 
mark in many places. We cannot express all that 
the present work owes to him. 


Harvarp University. 

1 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vols. ix. and x., and Hibbert 
Fournal for July 1910. 



INTRODUCTION , 4 i r , ; ‘ 1X 


Tue Evo.tution oF Lire—MeEcuanism anp TELEOLOGY 

Of duration in general—Unorganized bodies and abstract time— 
Organized bodies and real duration—Individuality and the 
process of growing old . : ; : I 

Of transformism and the different ways of interpreting ‘p= Radica! 
mechanism and real duration: the relation of biology to 
physics and chemistry—Radical finalism and real duration : 
the relation of biology to philosophy . ‘ ‘ : 24 

The quest of a criterion—Examination of the various theories with 
regard to a particular example—Darwin and _insensible 
variation—De Vries and sudden variation—Eimer and ortho- 
genesis—Neo-Lamarckism and the hereditability of acquired 
characters ‘ ; . 56 

Result of the inquiry—The al ae ; ‘ ‘ 89 


Tue Divercent Direcrions oF THE EvoLurion oF LIFE 

General idea of the evolutionary process—Growth—Divergent 
and complementary tendencies—The meaning of bea and 

of adaptation . 103 
The relation of the areal to ms ee ny nana of 

animal life—The development of animal life . : a SEES 
The main directions of the evolution of life: torpor, intelligence, 

instinct , ? , ; : 142 
The nature of the intellect . ‘ d : + EGS 
The nature of instinct ' : A ; Se 
Life and consciousness—The apparent place of man in nature <b <aee 




On THE Meaninc oF Lire—THE Orper or Nature 


Relation of the problem of life to the problem of knowledge—The 
method of philosophy—Apparent vicious circle of the method 
proposed—Real vicious circle of the opposite method , 

Simultaneous genesis of matter and intelligence—Geometry in- 
herent in matter—Geometrical tendency of the intellect— 
Geometry and deduction—Geometry and induction—Physical 
laws ; ‘ ; : ‘ : ; 

Sketch of a theory of knowledge based on the analysis of the idea 
of Disorder—Two opposed forms of order: the problem of 
genera and the problem of /aws—The idea of “disorder” an 
oscillation of the intellect between the two kinds of order 

Creation and evolution—Ideal genesis of matter—The origin and 
function of life—The essential and the accidental in the vital 
process and in the evolutionary movement—Mankind—The 
life of the body and the life of the spirit 


Mecuanistic ILLustion—A GLANCE AT THE HisTorY OF 

SysrEMs—RegEaL Becominc anp Fatse EvoLuTionisM 

Sketch of a criticism of philosophical systems, based on the analysis 
of the idea of Immutability and of the idea of “ Nothing ”— 
Relation of metaphysical problems to the idea of “ Nothing” 
—Real meaning of this idea 

Form and Becoming 

_ The philosophy of Forms and its conception of Becoming—Plato 

and Aristotle—The natural trend of the intellect 

Becoming in modern science : two views of Time . 

The metaphysical interpretation of modern science: Descartes, 
Spinoza, Leibniz 

The Criticism of Kant ‘ ‘ - ; 

The evolutionism of Spencer 











Tue history of the evolution of life, incomplete as it 
yet is, already reveals to us how the intellect has been 
formed, by an uninterrupted progress, along a line which 
ascends through the vertebrate series up to man. It 
shows us in the faculty of understanding an appendage 
of the faculty of acting, a more and more precise, more 
and more complex and supple adaptation of the con- 
sciousness of living beings to the conditions of exist- 
ence that are made for them. MHence should result 
this consequence that our intellect, in the narrow 
sense of the word, is intended to secure the perfect 
fitting of our body to its environment, to represent the 
relations of external things among themselves—in 
short, to think matter. Such will indeed be one of 
the conclusions of the present essay. We shall see 
that the human intellect feels at home among inanimate 
objects, more especially among solids, where our action 
finds its fulcrum and our industry its tools ; that our 
concepts have been formed on the model of solids ; 
that our logic is, pre-eminently, the logic of solids ; 
that, consequently, our intellect triumphs in geometry, 
wherein is revealed the kinship of logical thought with 
unorganized matter, and where the intellect has only 
to follow its natural movement, after the lightest 

possible contact with experience, in order to go from 


discovery to discovery, sure that experience is following 
behind it and will justify it invariably. 

But from this it must also follow that our thought, 
in its purely logical form, is incapable of presenting 
the true nature of life, the full meaning of the evolu- 
tionary movement. Created by life, in definite circum- 
stances, to act on definite things, how can it embrace 
life, of which it is only an emanation or an aspect? 
Deposited by the evolutionary movement in the course 
of its way, how can it be applied to the evolutionary 
movement itself? As well contend that the part is 
equal to the whole, that the effect can reabsorb its 
cause, or that the pebble left on the beach displays 
the form of the wave that brought it there. In fact, 
we do indeed feel that not one of the categories of 
our thought—unity, multiplicity, mechanical causality, 
intelligent finality, etc.—applies exactly to the things of 
life : who can say where individuality begins and ends, 
whether the living being is one or many, whether it 
is the cells which associate themselves into the 
organism or the organism which dissociates itself into 
cells ? In vain we force the living into this or that one 
of our moulds. All the moulds crack. They are 
too narrow, above all too rigid, for what we try to put 
into them. Our reasoning, so sure of itself among 
things inert, feels ill at ease on this new ground. It 
would be difficult to cite a biological discovery due 
to pure reasoning. And most often, when experience 
has finally shown us how life goes to work to obtain a 
certain result, we find its way of working is just that 
of which we should never have thought. 

Yet evolutionist philosophy does not hesitate to 
extend to the things of life the same methods of 
explanation which have succeeded in the case of un- 


organized matter. It begins by showing us in the 
intellect a local effect of evolution, a flame, perhaps 
accidental, which lights up the coming and going of 
living beings in the narrow passage open to their action ; 
and lo! forgetting what it has just told us, it makes of 
this lantern glimmering in a tunnel a Sun which can 
illuminate the world. Boldly it proceeds, with the . 
powers of conceptual thought alone, to the ideal recon- 
struction of all things, even of life. True, it hurtles in 
its course against such formidable difficulties, it sees 
its logic end in such strange contradictions, that it very 
speedily renounces its first ambition. “It is no longer 
reality itself,” it says, “that it will reconstruct, but only 
an imitation of the real, or rather a symbolical image ; 
the essence of things escapes us, and will escape us 
always ; we move among relations ; the absolute is not 

in our province; we are brought to a stand before 

the Unknowable.”—But for the human intellect, after 
too much pride, this is really an excess of humility. 
If the intellectual form of the living being has been 
gradually modelled on the reciprocal actions and 
reactions of certain bodies and their material environ- 
ment, how should it not reveal to us something of 
the very essence of which these bodies are made? 
Action cannot move in the unreal. A mind born 
to speculate or to dream, I admit, might remain 
outside reality, might deform or transform the real, 
perhaps even create it, as we create the figures of 
men and animals that our imagination cuts out of 
the passing cloud. But an intellect bent upon the act 
to be performed and the reaction to follow, feeling its 
object so as to get its mobile impression at every instant, 
is an intellect that touches something of the absolute. 
Would the idea ever have occurred to us to doubt 


this absolute value of our knowledge if philosophy 
had not shown us what contradictions our speculation 
meets, what dead-locks it ends in? But these diffi- 
culties and contradictions all arise from trying to apply 
the usual forms of our thought to objects with which 
our industry has nothing to do, and for which, therefore, 
our moulds are not made. Intellectual knowledge, in 
so far as it relates to a certain aspect of inert matter, 
ought, on the contrary, to give us a faithful imprint of 
it, having been stereotyped on this particular object. 
It becomes relative only if it claims, such as it is, to 
present to us life—that is to say, the maker of the 

Must we then give up fathoming the depths of life ? 
Must we keep to that mechanistic idea of it which the 
understanding will always give us—an idea necessarily 
artificial and symbolical, since it makes the total 
activity of life shrink to the form of a certain human 
activity which is only a partial and local manifestation 
of life,a result or by-product of the vital process? We 
should have to do so, indeed, if life had employed all 
the psychical potentialities it possesses in producing pure 
understandings—that is to say, in making geometricians. 
But the line of evolution that ends in man is not the 
only one. On other paths, divergent from it, other 
forms of consciousness have been developed, which 
have not been able to free themselves from external 
constraints or to regain control over themselves, as 
the human intellect has done, but which, none the less, 
also express something that is immanent and essential 
in the evolutionary movement. Suppose these other 
forms of consciousness brought together and amalga- 
mated with intellect: would not the result be a 


consciousness as wide as life? And such a conscious- 
ness, turning around suddenly against the push of life 
which it feels behind, would have a vision of life 
complete—would it not?—even though the vision 
were fleeting. 

It will be said that, even so, we do not transcend 
our intellect, for it is still with our intellect, and 
through our intellect, that we see the other forms of 
consciousness. And this would be right if we were 
pure intellects, if there did not remain, around our 
conceptual and logical thought, a vague nebulosity, 
made of the very substance out of which has been 
formed the luminous nucleus that we call the intellect. 
Therein reside certain powers that are complementary 
to the understanding, powers of which we have only 
an indistinct feeling when we remain shut up in our- 
selves, but which will become clear and distinct when 
they perceive themselves at work, so to speak, in the 
evolution of nature. They will thus learn what sort 
of effort they must make to be intensified and expanded 
in the very direction of life. 

This amounts to saying that sheory of knowledge 
and theory of life seem to us inseparable. A theory 
of life that is not accompanied by a criticism of know- 
ledge is obliged to accept, as they stand, the concepts 
which the understanding puts at its disposal: it can 
but enclose the facts, willing or not, in pre-existing 
frames which it regards as ultimate. It thus obtains 
a symbolism which is convenient, perhaps even 
necessary to positive science, but not a direct vision of. 
its object. On the other hand, a theory of knowledge 
which does not replace the intellect in the general 
evolution of life will teach us neither how the frames 


of knowledge have been constructed nor how we 
can enlarge or go beyond them. It is necessary that 
these two inquiries, theory of knowledge and theory 
of life, should join each other, and, by a circular 
process, push each other on unceasingly. 

Together, they may solve by a method more sure, 
brought nearer to experience, the great problems that 
philosophy poses. For, if they should succeed in 
their common enterprise, they would show us the 
formation of the intellect, and thereby the genesis of 
that matter of which our intellect traces the general 
configuration. They would dig to the very root of 
nature and of mind. They would substitute for the 
false evolutionism of Spencer—which consists in cutting 
up present reality, already evolved, into little bits 
no less evolved, and then recomposing it with these 
fragments, thus positing in advance everything that 
is to be explained—a true evolutionism, in which 
reality would be followed in its generation and its 

But a philosophy of this kind will not be made in a 
day. Unlike the philosophical systems properly so 
called, each of which was the individual work of a man 
of genius and sprang up as a whole, to be taken or 
left, it will only be built up by the collective and pro- 
gressive effort of many thinkers, of many observers 
also, completing, correcting and improving one another. 
So the present essay does not aim at resolving at once 
the greatest problems. It simply desires to define the 
method and to permit a glimpse, on some essential 
points, of the possibility of its application. 

Its plan is traced by the subject itself. In the 
first chapter, we try on the evolutionary progress the 
two ready-made garments that our understanding 


Tue existence of which we are most assured and which 
we know best is unquestionably our own, for of 
every other object we have notions which may be con- 
sidered external and superficial, whereas, of ourselves, 
our perception is internal and profound. What, then, 
do we find? In this privileged case, what is the precise 
meaning of the word “exist”? Let us recall here 
briefly the conclusions of an earlier work. 

I find, first of all, that I pass from state to state. | 
am warm or cold, | am merry or sad, I work or I de 
nothing, I look at what is around me or I think of 
something else. Sensations, feelings, volitions, ideas 
—such are the changes into which my existence is 
divided and which colour it in turns. 1 change, then, 
without ceasing. But this is not saying enough. 
Change is far more radical than we are at first inclined 
to suppose. 

For I speak of each of my states as if it formed a 
block and were a separate whole. I say indeed that I 
change, but the change seems to me to reside in the 
passage from one state to the next: of each state, taken 
separately, I am apt to think that it remains the same 
during all the time that it prevails. Nevertheless, a 
slight effort of attention would reveal to me that there 

% I B 


is no feeling, no idea, no volition which is not under- 
poing change every moment: if a mental state ceased 
to vary, its duration would cease to flow. Let us take 
the most stable of internal states, the visual perception 
of a motionless external object. The object may remain 
the same, I may look at it from the same side, at the 
same angle, in the same light ; nevertheless the vision 
I now have of it differs from that which I have just had, 
even if only because the one is an instant older than 
the other. My memory is there, which conveys some- 
thing of the past into the present. My mental state, 
as it advances on the road of time, is continually 
swelling with the duration which it accumulates: it 
goes on increasing—rolling upon itself, as a snowball 
on the snow. Still more is this the case with states 
more deeply internal, such as sensations, feelings, 
desires, etc., which do not correspond, like a simple 
visual perception, to an unvarying external object. 
But it is expedient to disregard this uninterrupted 
change, and to notice it only when it becomes sufficient 
to impress a new attitude on the body, a new direction 
on the attention. Then, and then only, we find that 
our state has changed. The truth is that we change 
without ceasing, and that the state itself is nothing 
but change. 

This amounts to saying that there is no essential 
difference between passing from one state to another 
and persisting in the same state. If the state which 
“remains the same” is more varied than we think, on 
the other hand the passing from one state to another 
resembles, more than we imagine, a single state being 
prolonged ; the transition is continuous. But, just 
because we close our eyes to the unceasing variation 
of every psychical state, we are obliged, when the 



change has become so considerable as to force itself 
on our attention, to speak as if a new state were placed 
alongside the previous one. Of this new state we 
assume that it remains unvarying in its turn, and 

-so on endlessly. The apparent discontinuity of the 

psychical life is then due to our attention being fixed 
on it by a series of separate acts: actually there is 
only a gentle slope; but in following the broken 
line of our acts of attention, we think we perceive 
separate steps. True, our psychic life is full of the 
unforeseen. A thousand incidents arise, which seem 
to be cut off from those which precede them, and 
to be disconnected from those which follow. Dis- 
continuous though they appear, however, in point of 
fact they stand out against the continuity of a back- 
ground on which they are designed, and to which 
indeed they owe the intervals that separate them ; 
they are the beats of the drum which break forth here 
and there in the symphony. Our attention fixes on 
them because they interest it more, but each of them 
is borne by the fluid mass of our whole psychical 
existence. [Each is only the best illuminated point of a 
moving zone which comprises all that we feel or think 
or will—all, in short, that we are at any given moment. 
It is this entire zone which in reality makes up our 
state. Now, states thus defined cannot be regarded 
as distinct elements. They continue each other in an 
endless flow. 

But, as our attention has distinguished and separated 
them artificially, it is obliged next to reunite them by 
an artificial bond. It imagines, therefore, a formless 
ego, indifferent and unchangeable, on which it threads 
the psychic states which it has set up as inde- 
pendent entities. Instead of a flux of fleeting shades 


merging into each other, it perceives distinct and, 
so to speak, sod colours, set side by side like 
the beads of a necklace; it must perforce then 
suppose a thread, also itself solid, to hold the beads 
together. But if this colourless substratum is per- 
petually coloured by that which covers it, it is for 
us, in its indeterminateness, as if it did not exist, 
since we only perceive what is coloured, or, in other 
words, psychic states. As a matter of fact, this sub- 
stratum has no reality ; it is merely a symbol intended 
to recall unceasingly to our consciousness the artificial 
character of the process by which the attention places 
clean-cut states side by side, where actually there 
is a continuity which unfolds. If our existence were 
composed of separate states with an impassive ego 
to unite them, for us there would be no duration. 
For an ego which does not change does not exdure, 
and a psychic state which remains the same so long 
as it is not replaced by the following state does not 
endure either. Vain, therefore, is the attempt to range 
such states beside each other on the ego supposed to 
sustain them: never can these solids strung upon a solid 
make up that duration which flows. What we actually 
obtain in this way is an artificial imitation of the 
internal life, a static equivalent which will lend itself 
better to the requirements of logic and language, just 
because we have eliminated from it the element of 
real time. But, as regards the psychical life unfolding 
beneath the symbols which conceal it, we readily per- 
ceive that time is just the stuff it is made of. 

There is, moreover, no stuff more resistant nor 
more substantial. For our duration is not merely one 
instant replacing another ; if it were, there would never 
be anything but the present—no prolonging of the 


past into the actual, no evolution, no concrete duration. 
Duration i is the continuous progress of the past which 
gnaws into the future and which swells as it advances. 
And as the past grows without ceasing, so also there is 
no limit to its preservation. Memory, as we have tried 
to prove,' is not a faculty of putting away recollections 
in a drawer, or of inscribing them in a register. There 
is no register, no drawer ; there is not even, properly 
speaking, a faculty, for a faculty works intermittently, 
when it will or when it can, whilst the piling up of 
the past upon the past goes on without relaxation. In 
reality, the past is preserved by itself, automatically. 
In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant ; 
all that we have felt, thought and willed from our 
earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which 
is about to join it, pressing against the portals of con- 
sciousness that would fain leave it outside. The cerebral 
mechanism is arranged just so as to drive back into the 
unconscious almost the whole of this past, and to admit 
beyond the threshold only that which can cast light 
on the present situation or further the action now 
being prepared—in short, only that which can give 
useful work. At the most, a few superfluous recollec- 
tions may succeed in smuggling themselves through 
the half-open door. These memories, messengers 
from the unconscious, remind us of what we are 
drageing behind us unawares. But, even though we 
may have no distinct idea of it, we feel vaguely that our 
past remains present to us. What are we, in fact, what 
is our character, if not the condensation of the history 
that we have ae from our birth—nay, even before 
our birth, since we bring with us prenatal dispositions ? 
Doubtless we think with only a small part of our past, 

1 Matiere et mémoire, Paris, 1896, chaps. ii. and iii. 


but it is with our entire past, including the original 
bent of our soul, that we desire, will and act. Our 
past, then, as a whole, is made manifest to us in its 
impulse ; it is felt in the form of tendency, although 
a small part of it only is known in the form of idea. 

From this survival of the past it follows that 
consciousness cannot go through the same state twice. 
The circumstances may still be the same, but they will 
act no longer on the same person, since they find him 
at a new moment of his history. Our personality, 
which is being built up each instant with its accumulated 
experience, changes without ceasing. By changing, it 
prevents any state, although superficially identical with 
another, from ever repeating itinits very depth. That 
is why our duration is irreversible. We could not live 
over again a single moment, for we should have to 
begin by effacing the memory of all that had followed. 
Even could we erase this memory from our intellect, 
we could not from our will. 

Thus our personality shoots, grows and ripens with- 
out ceasing. Each of its moments is something new 
added to what was before. We may go further : it is 
not only something new, but something unforeseeable. 
Doubtless, my present state is explained by what was 
in me and by what was acting on me a moment ago. 
In analysing it I should find no other elements. But 
even a superhuman intelligence would not have been 
able to foresee the simple indivisible form which gives 
to these purely abstract elements their concrete organiza- 
tion. For to foresee consists of projecting into the 
future what has been perceived in the past, or of 
imagining for a later time a new grouping, in a new 
order, of elements already perceived. But that which 
has never been perceived, and which is at the same 


time simple, is necessarily unforeseeable. Now such 
is the case with each of our states, regarded as a 
moment in a history that is gradually unfolding : it is 
simple, and it cannot have been already perceived, since 
it concentrates in its indivisibility all that has been 
perceived and what the present is adding to it besides. 
It is an original moment of a no less original history. 
The finished portrait is explained by the features of 
the model, by the nature of the artist, by the colours 
spread out on the palette ; but, even with the know- 
ledge of what explains it, no one, not even the artist, 
could have foreseen exactly what the portrait would be, 
for to predict it would have been to produce it before 
it was produced—an absurd hypothesis which is its 
own refutation. Even so with regard to the moments 
of our life, of which we are the artisans. Each of 
them is a kind of creation. And just as the talent of 
the painter is formed or deformed—in any case, is 
modified—under the very influence of the works he 
produces, so each of our states, at the moment of its 
issue, modifies our personality, being indeed the new 
form that we are just assuming. It is then right 
to say that what we do depends on what we are; 
but it is necessary to add also that we are, to a certain 
extent, what we do, and that we are creating our- 
selves continually. This creation of self by self is 
the more complete, the more one reasons on what 
one does. For reason does not proceed in such 
matters as in geometry, where impersonal premisses 
are given once for all, and an impersonal conclusion 
must perforce be drawn. Here, on the contrary, the 
same reasons may dictate to different persons, or to 
the same person at different moments, acts profoundly 
different, although equally reasonable. The truth is 


that they are not quite the same reasons, since they are 
not those of the same person, nor of the same moment. 
That is why we cannot deal with them in the abstract, 
from outside, as in geometry, nor solve for another 
the problems by which he is faced in life. Each 
must solve them from within, on his own account. 
But we need not go more deeply into this. We are 
seeking only the precise meaning that our conscious- 
ness gives to this word “ exist,” and we find that, for 
a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is 
to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself 
endlessly. Should the same be said of existence in 
general ? 

A material object, of whatever kind, presents 
opposite characters to those which we have just been 
describing. Either it remains as it is, or else, if it 
changes under the influence of an external force, our 
idea of this change is that of a displacement of parts 
which themselves do not change. If these parts took 
to changing, we should split them up in their turn. 
We should thus descend to the molecules of which the 
fragments are made, to the atoms that make up the 
molecules, to the corpuscles that generate the atoms, 
to the “imponderable” within which the corpuscle 
is perhaps a mere vortex. In short, we should push 
the division or analysis as far as necessary. But we 
should stop only before the unchangeable. 

Now, we say that a composite object changes by 
the displacement of its parts. But when a part has 
left its position, there is nothing to prevent its return 
to it. A group of elements which has gone through 
a state can therefore always find its way back to that 
state, if not by itself, at least by means of an external 


cause able to restore everything to its place. This 
amounts to saying that any state of the group may be 
repeated as often as desired, and consequently that the 
group does not grow old. It has no history. 

Thus nothing is created therein, neither form nor 
matter. What the group will be is already present in 
what it is, provided “ what it is” includes all the points 
of the universe with which it is related. A superhuman 
intellect could calculate, for any moment of time, the 
position of any point of the system in space. And as 
there is nothing more in the form of the whole than 
the arrangement of its parts, the future forms of the 
system are theoretically visible in its present con- 

All our belief in objects, all our operations on the 
systems that science isolates, rest in fact on the idea 
that time does not bite into them. We have touched 
on this question in an earlier work, and shall return to 
it in the course of the present study. For the moment, 
we will confine ourselves to pointing out that the 
abstract time ¢ attributed by science to a material 
object or to an isolated system consists only ina certain 
number of simultaneities or more generally of corre- 
spondences, and that this number remains the same, 
whatever be the nature of the intervals between the 
correspondences. With these intervals we are never 
concerned when dealing with inert matter ; or, if they 
are considered, it is in order to count therein fresh 
correspondences, between which again we shall not care 
what happens. Common sense, which is occupied 
with detached objects, and also science, which considers 
isolated systems, are concerned only with the ends of the 
intervals and not with the intervals themselves. There- 
fore the flow of time might assume an infinite rapidity, 


the entire past, present, and future of material objects 
or of isolated systems might be spread out all at once 
in space, without there being anything to change either 
in the formulae of the scientist or even in the language 
of common sense. The number ¢ would always stand for 
the same thing ; it would still count the same number 
of correspondences between the states of the objects or 
systems and the points of the line, ready drawn, which 
would be then the “ course of time.” 

Yet succession is an undeniable fact, even in the 
material world. Though our reasoning on isolated 
systems may imply that their history, past, present, and 
future, might be instantaneously unfurled like a fan, 
this history, in point of fact, unfolds itself gradually, 
as if it occupied a duration like our own. If I want to 
mix a glass of sugar and water, I must, willy-nilly, 
wait until the sugar melts. This little fact is big with 
meaning. For here the time I have to wait is not that 
mathematical time which would apply equally well to the 
entire history of the material world, even if that history 
were spread out instantaneously in space. It coincides 
with my impatience, that is to say, witha certain portion 
of my own duration, which I cannot protract or contract 
as I like. It is no longer something thought, it is some- 
thing ved. It is no longer a relation, it is an absolute. 
What else can this mean than that the glass of water, 
the sugar, and the process of the sugar’s melting in the 
water are abstractions, and that the Whole within which 
they have been cut out by my senses and understanding 
progresses, it may be in the manner of a consciousness? 

Certainly, the operation by which science isolates 
and closes a system is not altogether artificial. If it 
had no objective foundation, we could not explain 
why it is clearly indicated in some cases and im- 


possible in others. We shall see that matter has a 
tendency to constitute iso/able systems, that can be 
treated geometrically. In fact, we shall define matter 
by just this tendency. But it is only a tendency. 
Matter does not go to the end, and the isolation 
is never complete. If science does go to the 
end and isolate completely, it is for convenience of 
study ; it is understood that the so-called isolated 
system remains subject to certain external influences. 
Science merely leaves these alone, either because it 
finds them slight enough to be negligible, or because 
it intends to take them into account later on. It is 
none the less true that these influences are so many 
threads which bind up the system to another more 
extensive, and this to a third which includes both, and 
so on to the system most objectively isolated and most 
independent of all, the solar system complete. But, 
even here, the isolation is not absolute. Our sun 
radiates heat and light beyond the farthest planet. 
And, on the other hand, it moves in a certain fixed 
direction, drawing with it the planets and their satellites. 
The thread attaching it to the rest of the universe 
is doubtless very tenuous. Nevertheless it is along 
this thread that is transmitted down to the smallest 
particle of the world in which we live the duration 
immanent to the whole of the universe. 

The universe exdures. The more we study the 
nature of time, the more we shall comprehend that 
duration means invention, the creation of forms, the 
continual elaboration of the absolutely new. The 
systems marked off by science endure only because they 
are bound up inseparably with the rest of the universe. 
It is true that in the universe itself two opposite 
movements are to be distinguished, as we shall see 


later “on, descent” and’ “ascent.” “Phe iret wonly 
unwinds a roll ready prepared. In principle, it might 
be accomplished almost instantaneously, like releasing 
a spring. But the ascending movement, which corre- 
sponds to an inner work of ripening or creating, endures 
essentially, and imposes its rhythm on the first, which 
is inseparable from it. 

There is no reason, therefore, why a duration, and 
so a form of existence like our own, should not be attri- 
buted to the systems that science isolates, provided such 
systems are reintegrated into the Whole. But they 
must be so reintegrated. The same is even more 
obviously true of the objects cut out by our perception. 
The distinct outlines which we see in an object, and 
which give it its individuality, are only the design of a 
certain kind of influence that we might exert on a 
certain point of space: it is the plan of our eventual 
actions that is sent back to our eyes, as though bya 
mirror, when we see the surfaces and edges of things. 
Suppress this action, and with it consequently those 
main directions which by perception are traced out for 
it in the entanglement of the real, and the individuality 
of the body is re-absorbed in the universal interaction 
which, without doubt, is reality itself. 

Now, we have considered material objects generally. 
Are there not some objects privileged ? The bodies we 
perceive are, so to speak, cut out of the stuff of nature 
by our perception, and the scissors follow, in some way, 
the marking of lines along which action might be taken. 
But the body which is to perform this action, the body 
which marks out upon matter the design of its eventual 
actions even before they are actual, the body that has 
only to point its sensory organs on the flow of the rea] 


in order to make that flow crystallize into definite forms 
and thus to create all the other bodies—in short, the 
living body—is this ; a 1 body a as others are ? 

Doubtless it, also, consists in a portion of extension 
bound up with the rest of extension, an intimate part of 
the Whole, subject to the same physical and chemical 
laws that govern any and every portion of matter. But, 
while the subdivision of matter into separate bodies is 
relative to our perception, while the building up of 
closed-off systems of material points is relative to our 
science, the living body has been separated and closed 
off by Nature herself. It is composed of unlike parts 
that complete each other. It performs diverse functions 
that involve each other. It 1s an individual, and of no 
other object, not even of the crystal, can this be said, 
for a crystal has neither difference of parts nor diversity 
of functions. No doubt, it is hard to decide, even in 
the organized world, what is individual and what is not. 
The difficulty is great, even in the animal kingdom ; 
with plants it is almost insurmountable. This difficulty 
is, moreover, due to profound causes, on which we shall 
dwell later. We shall see that individuality admits of 
any number of degrees, and that it is not fully realized 
anywhere, even in man. But that is no reason for 
thinking it is not a characteristic property of life. The 
biologist who proceeds as a geometrician is too ready to 
take advantage here of our inability to give a precise and 
general definition of individuality. A perfect definition 
applies only to a completed reality ; now, vital properties 
are never entirely realized, though always on the way 
to become so ; they are not so much séases as tendencies. 
And a tendency achieves all that it aims at only if it is not 
thwarted by another tendency. How, then, could this 
occur in the domain of life, where, as we shall show, the 


interaction of antagonistic tendencies is always implied ! 
In particular, it may be said of individuality that, while 
the tendency to individuate is everywhere present in 
the organized world, it is everywhere opposed by the 
tendency towards reproduction. For the individuality 
to be perfect, it would be necessary that no detached 
part of the organism could live separately. But then 
reproduction would be impossible. For what is repro- 
duction, but the building up of a new organism with a 
detached fragment of the old ? Individuality therefore 
harbours its enemy at home. Its very need of per- 
petuating itself in time condemns it never to be complete 
inspace. The biologist must take due account of both 
tendencies in every instance, and it is therefore useless 
to ask him for a definition of individuality that shall fit 
all cases and work automatically. 

But too often one reasons about the things of life 
in the same way as about the conditions of crude 
matter. Nowhere is the confusion so evident as in 
discussions about individuality. We are shown the 
stumps of a Lumbriculus, each regenerating its head 
and living thenceforward as an independent individual ; 
a hydra whose pieces become so many fresh hydras ; 
a sea-urchin’s egg whose fragments develop com- 
plete embryos: where then, we are asked, was the 
individuality of the egg, the hydra, the worm ?—But, 
because there are several individuals now, it does not 
follow that there was not a single individual just 
before. No doubt, when I have seen several drawers 
fall from a chest, I have no longer the right to say 
that the article was all of one piece. But the fact is 
that there can be nothing more in the present of the 
chest of drawers than there was in its past, and if it is 
made up of several different pieces now, it was so from 



the date of its manufacture. Generally speaking, un- 
organized bodies, which are what we have need of in 
order that we may act, and on which we have modelled 
our fashion of thinking, are regulated by this simple 
law : the present contains nothing more than the past, and | 
what is found in the effect was already in the cause. But 
suppose that the distinctive feature of the organized body 
is that it grows and changes without ceasing, as indeed 
_ the most superficial observation testifies, there would be 
nothing astonishing in the fact that it was ove in the first 
instance, and afterwards many. The reproduction of uni- 
cellular organisms consists in just this—the living being 
divides into two halves, of which each is a complete 
individual. True, in the more complex animals, nature 
localises in the almost independent sexual cells the 
power of producing the whole anew. But something 
of this power may remain diffused in the rest of the 
organism, as the facts of regeneration prove, and it is 
conceivable that in certain privileged cases the faculty 
may persist integrally in a latent condition and manifest 
itself on the first opportunity. In truth, that I may 
have the right to speak of individuality, it is not 
necessary that the organism should be without the 
power to divide into fragments that are able to live. 
It is sufficient that it should have presented a certain 
systematisation of parts before the division, and that 
the same systematisation tend to be reproduced in each 
separate portion afterwards. Now, that is precisely 
what we observe in the organic world. We may con- 
clude, then, that individuality is never perfect, and that 
it is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to tell what is 
an individual and what is not, but that life nevertheless 
manifests a search for individuality, as if it strove to 
constitute systems naturally isolated, naturally closed. 


By this is a living being distinguished from all that 
our perception or our science isolates or closes artifici- 
ally. It would therefore be wrong to compare it to an 
object. Should we wish to find a term of comparison in 
the inorganic world, it is not to a determinate material 
object, but much rather to the totality of the material 
universe that we ought to compare the living organism. 
It is true that the comparison would not be worth 
much, for a living being is observable, whilst the whole 
of the universe is constructed or reconstructed by 
thought. But at least our attention would thus have 
been called to the essential character of organization. 
Like the universe as a whole, like each conscious being 
taken separately, the organism which lives is a thing 
that endures. Its past, in its entirety, is prolonged into 
its present, and abides there, actual and acting. How 
otherwise could we understand that it passes through 
distinct and well-marked phases, that it changes its age 
—in short, that it has a history? If I consider my 
body in particular, I find that, like my consciousness, 
it matures little by little from infancy to old age; like 
myself, it grows old. Indeed, maturity and old age 
are, properly speaking, attributes only of my body ; it 
is only metaphorically that I apply the same names to 
the corresponding changes of my conscious self. Now, 
if I pass from the top to the bottom of the scale of 
living beings, from one of the most to one of the least 
differentiated, from the multicellular organism of man to 
the unicellular organism of the Infusorian, I find, even 
in this simple cell, the same process of growing old. The 
Infusorian is exhausted at the end of a certain number 
of divisions, and though it may be possible, by modify- 
ing the environment, to put off the moment when a 
rejuvenation by conjugation becomes necessary, this 


cannot be indefinitely postponed.’ It is true that 
between these two extreme cases, in which the organism 
is completely individualised, there might be found a 
multitude of others in which the individuality is less 
well marked, and in which, although there is doubtless 
an ageing somewhere, one cannot say exactly what it is 
that grows old. Once more, there is no universal bio- 
logical law which applies precisely and automatically to 
every living thing. There are only directions in which 
life throws out species in general. Each particular 
species, in the very act by which it is constituted, 
affirms its independence, follows its caprice, deviates 
more or less from the straight line, sometimes even 
remounts the slope and seems to turn its back on its 
original direction. It is easy enough to argue that a 
tree never grows old, since the tips of its branches 
are always equally young, always equally capable of 
engendering new trees by budding. But in such an 
organism—which is, after all, a society rather than an 
individual—something ages, if only the leaves and the 
interior of the trunk. And each cell, considered separ- 
ately, evolves in a specific way. Wherever anything 
lives, there is, open somewhere, a register in which time 
is being inscribed. 

This, it will be said, is only a metaphor.—It is of 
the very essence of mechanism, in fact, to consider as 
metaphorical every expression which attributes to time 
an effective action and a reality of its own. In vain 
does immediate experience show us that the very basis 
of our conscious existence is memory, that is to Say, the 
prolongation of the past into the present, or, in a word, 
duration, acting and irreversible. In vain does reason 

1 Calkins, “Studies on the Life History of Protozoa” (Archiv f 

Entewicklungsmechanik, vol. xv.. 1903, pp. 139-186). 


prove to us that the more we get away from the objects 
cut out and the systems isolated by common sense 
and by science and the deeper we dig beneath them, 
the more we have to do with a reality which changes as 
a whole in its inmost states, as if an accumulative 
memory of the past made it impossible to go back 
again. ‘The mechanistic instinct of the mind is stronger 
than reason, stronger than immediate experience. The 
metaphysician that we each carry unconsciously within 
us, and the presence of which is explained, as we shall 
see later on, by the very place that man occupies 
amongst the living beings, has its fixed requirements, 
its ready-made explanations, its irreducible propositions: 
all unite in denying concrete duration. Change must be 
reducible to an arrangement or rearrangement of parts ; 
the irreversibility of time must be an appearance relative 
to our ignorance; the impossibility of turning back 
must be only the inability of man to put things in place 
again. So growing old can be nothing more than the 
gradual gain or loss of certain substances, perhaps both 
together. Time is assumed to have just as much 
reality for a living being as for an hour-glass, in which 
the top part empties while the lower fills, and all goes 
where it was before when you turn the glass upside 

True, biologists are not agreed on what is gained 
and what is lost between the day of birth and the day 
of death. There are those who hold to the continual 
growth in the volume of protoplasm from the birth of 
the cell right on to its death.1_ More probable and more 
profound is the theory according to which the diminution 

1 Sedgwick Minot, “On Certain Phenomena of Growing Old” (Proc. 
Amer. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, 39th Meeting, Salem, 1891, 

pp. 271-288). 


bears on the quantity of nutritive substance contained 
in that “inner environment” in which the organism is 
being renewed, and the increase in the quantity of un- 
excreted residual substances which, accumulating in the 
body, finally “crust it over.”* Must we, however—with 
an eminent bacteriologist—declare any explanation of 
growing old insufficient that does not take account of 
phagocytosis ?* We do not feel qualified to settle the 
question. But the fact that the two theories agree in 
affirming the constant accumulation or loss of a certain 
kind of matter, even though they have little in common 
as to what is gained and lost, shows pretty well that 
the frame of the explanation has been furnished a priori. 
We shall see this more and more as we proceed with 
our study: it is not easy, in thinking of time, to escape 
the image of the hour-glass. 

The cause of growing old must lie deeper. We 
hold that there is unbroken continuity between the 
evolution of the embryo and that of the complete 
organism. ‘The impetus which causes a living being 
to grow larger, to develop and to age, is the same 
that has caused it to pass through the phases of 
the embryonic life. The development of the embryo 
is a perpetual change of form. Any one who attempts 
to note all its successive aspects becomes lost in an 
infinity, as is inevitable in dealing with a continuum. 
Life does but prolong this prenatal evolution. The 
proof of this is that it is often impossible for us to say 
whether we are dealing with an organism growing old 
or with an embryo continuing to evolve ; such is the 

1 Le Dantec, L’Individualité et Terreur individualiste, Paris, 1905, 
pp. 34 ff. 

2 Metchnikoff, “La Dégénérescence sénile” (Année biologique, ili., 1897, 
pp. 249 ff.). Cf. by the same author, La Nature humaine, Paris, 1902, 

pp: 312 ff. 


case, for example, with the larvae of insects and crustacea. 
On the other hand, in an organism such as our own, 
crises like puberty or the menopause, in which the in- 
dividual is completely transformed, are quite comparable 
to changes in the course of larval or embryonic life—yet 
they are part and parcel of the process of our ageing. 
Although they occur at a definite age and within a 
time that may be quite short, no one would maintain 
that they appear then ex abrupto, from without, simply 
because a certain age is reached, just as a legal right 
is granted to us on our one-and-twentieth birthday. It 
is evident that a change like that of puberty is in 
course of preparation at every instant from birth, and 
even before birth, and that the ageing up to that crisis 
consists, in part at least, of this gradual preparation. 
In short, what is properly vital in growing old is the 
insensible, infinitely graduated, continuance of the 
change of form. Now, this change is undoubtedly 
accompanied by phenomena of organic destruction : to 
these, and to these alone, will a mechanistic explanation 
of ageing be confined. It will note the facts of sclerosis, 
the gradual accumulation of residual substances, the 
growing hypertrophy of the protoplasm of the cell. 
But under these visible effects an inner cause lies 
hidden. The evolution of the living being, like that 
of the embryo, implies a continual recording of dura- 
tion, a persistence of the past in the present, and so an 
appearance, at least, of organic memory. 

The present state of an unorganized body depends ex- 
clusively on what happened at the previous instant ; and 
likewise the position of the material points of a system 
defined and isolated by science is determined by the 
position of these same points at the moment immedi- 
ately before. In other words, the laws that govern 


unorganized matter are expressible, in principle, by 
differential equations in which time (in the sense in 
which the mathematician takes this word) would play 
the rdle of independent variable. Is it so with the 
laws of life? Does the state of a living body find its 
complete explanation in the state immediately before ? 
Yes, if it is agreed @ priori to liken the living body to 
other bodies, and to identify it, for the sake of the 
argument, with the artificial systems on which the 
chemist, physicist, and astronomer operate. But in 
astronomy, physics, and chemistry the proposition has 
a perfectly definite meaning: it signifies that certain 
aspects of the present, important for science, are 
calculable as functions of the immediate past. Nothing 
of the sort in the domain of life. Here calculation 
touches, at most, certain phenomena of organic 
destruction. Organic creation, on the contrary, the 
evolutionary phenomena which properly constitute life, 
we cannot in any way subject to a mathematical treat- 
ment. It will be said that this impotence is due only 
to our ignorance. But it may equally well express 
the fact that the present moment of a living body does 
not find its explanation in the moment immediately 
before, that a// the past of the organism must be 
added to that moment, its heredity—in fact, the whole 
of a very long history. In the second of these two 
hypotheses, not in the first, is really expressed the 
present state of the biological sciences, as well as their 
direction. As for the idea that the living body might 
be treated by some superhuman calculator in the 
same mathematical way as our solar system, this has 
gradually arisen from a metaphysic which has taken a 
more precise form since the physical discoveries of 
Galileo, but which, as we shall show, was always the 


natural metaphysic of the human mind. Its apparent 
clearness, our impatient desire to find it true, the 
enthusiasm with which so many excellent minds accept 
it without proof—all the seductions, in short, that it 
exercises on our thought, should put us on our guard 
against it. The attraction it has for us proves well 
enough that it gives satisfaction to an innate inclination. 
But, as will be seen further on, the intellectual tendencies 
innate to-day, which life must have created in the course 
of its evolution, are not at all meant to supply us with 
an explanation of life: they have something else to do. 

Any attempt to distinguish between an artificial 
and a natural system, between the dead and the living, 
runs counter to this tendency at once. Thus it happens 
that we find it equally difficult to imagine that the 
organized has duration and that the unorganized has 
not. When we say that the state of an artificial system 
depends exclusively on its state at the moment before, 
does it not seem as if we were bringing time in, as if 
the system had something to do with real duration? 
And, on the other hand, though the whole of the past 
goes into the making of the living being’s present 
moment, does not organic memory press it into the 
moment immediately before the present, so that the 
moment immediately before becomes the sole cause of 
the present one f—To speak thus is to ignore the 
cardinal difference between concrete time, along which 
a real system develops, and that adstract time which 
enters into our speculations on artificial systems. 
What does it mean, to say that the state of an artificial 
system depends on what it was at the moment immedi- 
ately before? There is no instant immediately before 
another instant ; there could not be, any more than 
there could be one mathematical point touching another. 


The instant “immediately before”’ is, in reality, that 
which is connected with the present instant by the 
interval dt. All that you mean to say, therefore, is 
that the present state of the system is defined by 
equations into which differential coefficients enter, 
such as ds/dt, du/dt, that is to say, at bottom, present 
velocities and present accelerations. You are therefore 
really speaking only of the present—a present, it is true, 
considered along with its zendency. ‘The systems science 
works with are, in fact, in an instantaneous present that 
is always being renewed ; such systems are never in that 
real, concrete duration in which the past remains bound 
up with the present. When the mathematician calculates 
the future state of a system at the end of a time 4, there 
is nothing to prevent him from supposing that the uni- 
verse vanishes from this moment till that, and suddenly 
reappears. It is the +th moment only that counts— 
and that will be a mere instant. What will flow on in 
the interval—that is to say, real time—does not count, 
and cannot enter into the calculation. If the mathe- 
matician says that he puts himself inside this interval, 
he means that he is placing himself at a certain point, 
at a particular moment, therefore at the extremity 
again of a certain time ¢’; with the interval up to 7’ 
he is not concerned. If he divides the interval into 
infinitely small parts by considering the differential dz, 
he thereby expresses merely the fact that he will 
consider accelerations and velocities—that is to say, 
numbers which denote tendencies and enable him to 
calculate the state of the system at a given moment. 
But he is always speaking of a given moment—a static 
moment, that is—and not of flowing time. In short, 
the world the mathematician deals with 1s a world that 
dies and is reborn at every instant,—the world which 


Descartes was thinking of when he spoke of continued creation. 
But, in time thus conceived, how could evolution, 
which is the very essence of life, ever take place? 
Evolution implies a real persistence of the past in the 
present, a duration which is, as it were, a hyphen, a 
connecting link. In other words, to know a living 
being or watural system is to get at the very interval 
of duration, while the knowledge of an artificial or 
mathematical system applies only to the extremity. 

Continuity of change, preservation of the past in 
the present, real duration—the living being seems, 
then, to share these attributes with consciousness. 
Can we go further and say that life, like conscious 
activity, is invention, is unceasing creation ? 

It does not enter into our plan to set down here 
the proofs of transformism. We wish only to 
explain in a word or two why we shall accept it, in 
the present work, as a sufficiently exact and precise 
expression of the facts actually known. The idea of 
transformism is already in germ in the natural classi- 
fication of organized beings. The naturalist, in fact, 
brings together the organisms that are like each other, 
then divides the group into sub-groups within which 
the likeness is still greater, and so on: all through the 
operation, the characters of the group appear as general 
themes on which each of the sub-groups performs its 
particular variation. Now, such is just the relation 
we find, in the animal and in the vegetable world, 
between the generator and the generated: on the 
canvas which the ancestor passes on, and which his 
descendants possess in common, each puts his own 
original embroidery. True, the differences between 
the descendant and the ancestor are slight, and it may 


be asked whether the same living matter presents 
enough plasticity to take in turn such different forms 
as those of a fish, a reptile and a bird. But, to this 
question, observation gives a peremptory answer. It 
shows that up to a certain period in its development the 
embryo of the bird is hardly distinguishable from that of 
the reptile, and that the individual develops, throughout 
the embryonic life in general, a series of transforma- 
tions comparable to those through which, according 
to the theory of evolution, one species passes into 
another. AQ single cell, the result of the combination 
of two cells, male and female, accomplishes this work 
by dividing. Every day, before our eyes, the highest 
forms of life are springing from a very elementary form. 
Experience, then, shows that the most complex has been 
able to issue from the most simple by way of evolu- 
tion. Now, has it arisen so, as a matter of fact? Pale- 
ontology, in spite of the insufficiency of its evidence, 
invites us to believe it has ; for, where it makes out the 
order of succession of species with any precision, this 
order is just what considerations drawn from embryo- 
geny and comparative anatomy would lead any one 
to suppose, and each new paleontological discovery 
brings transformism a new confirmation. Thus, the 
proof drawn from mere observation is ever being 
strengthened, while, on the other hand, experiment 
is removing the objections one by one. The recent 
experiments of H. de Vries, for instance, by showing 
that important variations can be produced suddenly 
and transmitted regularly, have overthrown some of 
the greatest difficulties raised by the theory. They 
have enabled us greatly to shorten the time biological 
evolution seems to demand. They also render us 
less exacting toward paleontology. So that, all things 


considered, the transformist hypothesis looks more and 
more like a close approximation to the truth. It is 
not rigorously demonstrable ; but, failing the certainty 
of theoretical or experimental demonstration, there is a 
probability which is continually growing, due to evidence 
which, while coming short of direct proof, seems to 
point persistently in its direction: such is the kind of 
probability that the theory of transformism offers. 

Let us admit, however, that transformism may be 
wrong. Let us suppose that species are proved, by 
inference or by experiment, to have arisen by a dis- 
continuous process, of which to-day we have no idea. 
Would the doctrine be affected in so far as it has a 
special interest or importance for us? Classification 
would probably remain, in its broad lines. The actual 
data of embryology would also remain. The correspond- 
ence between comparative embryogeny and comparative 
anatomy would remain too. Therefore biology could 
and would continue to establish between living forms 
the same relations and the same kinship as transformism 
supposes to-day. It would be, it is true, an ideal 
kinship, and no longer a material affiliation. But, as 
the actual data of paleontology would also remain, we 
should still have to admit that it is successively, not 
simultaneously, that the forms between which we find 
an ideal kinship have appeared. Now, the evolutionist 
theory, so far as it has any importance for philosophy, 
requires no more. It consists above all in establishing 
relations of ideal kinship, and in maintaining that wher- 
ever there is this relation of, so to speak, /ogica/ afhliation 
between forms, there is also a relation of chronological 
succession between the species in which these forms 
are materialized. Both arguments would hold in any 
case. And hence, an evolution somewhere would still 


have to be supposed, whether in a creative Thought in 
which the ideas of the different species are generated 
by each other exactly as transformism holds that 
species themselves are generated on the earth; or in a 
plan of vital organization immanent in nature, which 
gradually works itself out, in which the relations of 
logical and chronological affiliation between pure 
forms are just those which transformism presents as 
relations of real affiliation between living individuals ; 
or, finally, in some unknown cause of life, which 
develops its effects as if they generated one another. 
Evolution would then simply have been transposed, 
made to pass from the visible to the invisible. 
Almost all that transformism tells us to-day would 
be preserved, open to interpretation in another way. 
Will it not, therefore, be better to stick to the letter of 
transformism as almost all scientists profess it? Apart 
from the question to what extent the theory of evolution 
describes the facts and to what extent it symbolizes 
them, there is nothing in it that is irreconcilable with 
the doctrines it has claimed to replace, even with that 
of special creations, to which it is usually opposed. 
For this reason we think the language of transformism 
forces itself now upon all philosophy, as the dogmatic 
affirmation of transformism forces itself upon science. 
But then, we must no longer speak of /ife in general 
as an abstraction, or as a mere heading under which all 
living beings are inscribed. At a certain moment, in 
certain points of space, a visible current has taken rise ; 
this current of life, traversing the bodies it has organized 
one after another, passing from generation to generation, 
has become divided amongst species and distributed 
amongst individuals without losing anything of its 
force, rather intensifying in proportion to its advance. 


It is well known that, on the theory of the “ continuity 
of the germ-plasm,” maintained by Weismann, the 
sexual elements of the generating organism pass on 
their properties directly to the sexual elements of the 
organism engendered. In this extreme form, the 
theory has seemed debatable, for it is only in exceptional 
cases that there are any signs of sexual glands at the 
time of segmentation of the fertilized egg. But, 
though the cells that engender the sexual elements do 
not generally appear at the beginning of the embryonic 
life, it is none the less true that they are always formed 
out of those tissues of the embryo which have not 
undergone any particular functional differentiation, and 
whose cells are made of unmodified protoplasm.’ In 
other words, the genetic power of the fertilized ovum 
weakens, the more it 1s spread over the growing mass 
of the tissues of the embryo; but, while it is being 
thus diluted, it is concentrating anew something of 
itself on a certain special point, to wit, the cells from 
which the ova or spermatozoa will develop. It might 
therefore be said that, though the germ-plasm is not 
continuous, there is at least continuity of genetic 
energy, this energy being expended only at certain 
instants, for just enough time to give the requisite 
impulsion to the embryonic life, and being recouped as 
soon as possible in new sexual elements, in which, 
again, it bides its time. Regarded from this point of 
view, life is like a current passing from germ to germ 
through the medium of a developed organism. It is as if 
the organism itself were only an excrescence, a bud 
caused to sprout by the former germ endeavouring to 
continue itself in a new germ. The essential thing is 
the continuous progress indefinitely pursued, an invisible 
1 Roule, L’ Embryologie générale, Paris, 1893, p. 319. 


progress, on which each visible organism rides during 
the short interval of time given it to live. 

Now, the more we fix our attention on this con- 
tinuity of life, the more we see that organic evolution 
resembles the evolution of a consciousness, in which 

-the past presses against the present and causes the 
, upspringing of a new form of consciousness, incom- 
\mensurable with its antecedents. That the appearance 
of a vegetable or animal species is due to specific causes, 
nobody will gainsay. But this can only mean that if, 
after the fact, we could know these causes in detail, we 
could explain by them the form that has been pro- 
duced ; foreseeing the form is out of the question.’ It 
may perhaps be said that the form could be foreseen if 
we could know, in all their details, the conditions under 
which it will be produced. But these conditions are 
built up into it and are part and parcel of its being ; 
they are peculiar to that phase of its history in which 
life finds itself at the moment of producing the form : 
how could we know beforehand a situation that is 
unique of its kind, that has never yet occurred and 
will never occur again? Of the future, only that is 
foreseen which is like the past or can be made up 
again with elements like those of the past. Such is 
the case with astronomical, physical and chemical facts, 
with all facts which form part of a system in which 
elements supposed to be unchanging are merely put 
together, in which the only changes are changes of 
position, in which there is no theoretical absurdity 
in imagining that things are restored to their place ; 
in which, consequently, the same total phenomenon, 

1 The irreversibility of the series of living beings has been well set forth 
by Baldwin (Development and Evolution, New York, 1902; in particular 

Pp: 327)- 


or at least the same elementary phenomena, can be 
repeated. But an original situation, which imparts 
something of its own originality to its elements, that is 
to say, to the partial views that are taken of it, how 
can such a situation be pictured as given before it is 
actually produced ?? All that can be said is that, once 
produced, it will be explained by the elements that 
analysis will then carve out of it. Now, what is true of 
the production of a new species is also true of the pro- 
duction of a new individual, and, more generally, of any 
moment of any living form. For, though the variation 
must reach a certain importance and a certain generality 
in order to give rise to a new species, it is being produced 
every moment, continuously and insensibly, in every 
living being. And it is evident that even the sudden 
‘mutations "’ which we now hear of are possible only if 
a process of incubation, or rather of maturing, is going 
on throughout a series of generations that do not seem 
to change. In this sense it might be said of life, as 
of consciousness, that at every moment it is creating 

But against this idea of the absolute originalityand un- 
foreseeability of forms our whole intellect rises in revolt. 

1 We have dwelt on this point and tried to make it clear in the Essai 
sur les données tmmédtates de la conscience, pp. 140-151. 

2 In his fine work on Genius in Art (Le Génie dans Tart), M. Séailles 
develops this twofold thesis, that art is a continuation of nature and that 
life is creation. We should willingly accept the second formula ; but by 
creation must we understand, as the author does, a synthesis of elements ? 
Where the elements pre-exist, the synthesis that will be made is virtually 
given, being only one of the possible arrangements. This arrangement a 
superhuman intellect could have perceived in advance among all the 
possible ones that surround it. We hold, on the contrary, that in the 
domain of life the elements have no real and separate existence. They are 
manifold mental views of an indivisible process. And for that reason there 

is radical contingency in progress, incommensurability between what goes 
before and what follows—in short, duration. 


The essential function of our intellect, as the evolution 
of life has fashioned it, is to be a light for our conduct, 
to make ready for our action on things, to foresee, for 
a given situation, the events, favourable or unfavourable, 
which may follow thereupon. Intellect therefore in- 
stinctively selects in a given situation whatever is like 
something already known ; it seeks this out, in order 
that it may apply its principle that ‘like produces like.” 
In just this does the prevision of the future by 
common sense consist. Science carries this faculty to 
the highest possible degree of exactitude and preci- 
sion, but does not alter its essential character. Like 
ordinary knowledge, in dealing with things science is 
concerned only with the aspect of repetition. Though 
the whole be original, science will always manage to 
analyse it into elements or aspects which are approxi- 
mately a reproduction of the past. Science can work 
only on what is supposed to repeat itself—that is to say, 
on what is withdrawn, by hypothesis, from the action 
of real time. Anything that is irreducible and irrever- 
sible in the successive moments of a history eludes 
science. To get a notion of this irreducibility and 
irreversibility, we must break with scientific habits 
which are adapted to the fundamental requirements of 
thought, we must do violence to the mind, go counter 
to the natural bent of the intellect. But that is just 
the function of philosophy. 

In vain, therefore, does life evolve before our eyes 
as a continuous creation of unforeseeable form: the 
idea always persists that form, unforeseeability and con- 
tinuity are mere appearance,—the outward reflection of 
our own ignorance. What is presented to the senses as 
a continuous history would break up, we are told, into 
a series of successive states. ‘ What gives you the 


impression of an original state resolves, upon analysis, 
into elementary facts, each of which is the repetition 
of a fact already known. What you call an unfore- 
seeable form is only a new arrangement of old ele- 
ments. The elementary causes, which in their totality 
have determined this arrangement, are themselves old 
causes repeated in a new order. Knowledge of the 
elements and of the elementary causes would have 
made it possible to foretell the living form which is 
their sum and their resultant. When we have 
resolved the biological aspect of phenomena into 
physico-chemical factors, we will leap, if necessary, over 
physics and chemistry themselves ; we will go from 
masses to molecules, from molecules to atoms, from 
atoms to corpuscles: we must indeed at last come to 
something that can be treated as a kind of solar 
system, astronomically. If you deny it, you oppose 
the very principle of scientific mechanism, and you 
arbitrarily affirm that living matter is not made of the 
same elements as other matter.’”"—We reply that we 
do not question the fundamental identity of inert 
matter and organized matter. The only question is 
whether the natural systems which we call living 
beings must be assimilated to the artificial systems that 
science cuts out within inert matter, or whether they 
must not rather be compared to that natural system 
which is the whole of the universe. That life is a kind 
of mechanism I cordially agree. But is it the mechanism 
of parts artificially isolated within the whole of the 
universe, or is it the mechanism of the real whole? 
The real whole might well be, we conceive, an in- 
divisible continuity. The systems we cut out within it 
would, properly speaking, not then be parts at all ; 
they would be partial views of the whole. And, with 


these partial views put end to end, you will not make 
even a beginning of the reconstruction of the whole, 
any more than, by multiplying photographs of an object 
in a thousand different aspects, you will reproduce the 
object itself. So of life and of the physico-chemical 
phenomena to which you endeavour to reduce it. 
Analysis will undoubtedly resolve the process of organic 
creation into an ever-growing number of physico- 
chemical phenomena, and chemists and physicists will 
have to do, of course, with nothing but these. But 
it does not follow that chemistry and physics will ever 
give us the key to life. 

A very small element of a curve is very near being 
a straight line. And the smaller it is, the nearer. In 
the limit, it may be termed a part of the curve or a 
part of the straight line, as you please, for in each 
of its points a curve coincides with its tangent. So 
likewise “ vitality’ is tangent, at any and every point, 
to physical and chemical forces ; but such points are, 
as a fact, only views taken by a mind which imagines 
stops at various moments of the movement that 
generates the curve. In reality, life is no more made 
of physico-chemical elements than a curve is composed 
of straight lines. 

In a general way, the most radical progress a science 
can achieve is the working of the completed results into 
a new scheme of the whole, by relation to which they 
become instantaneous and motionless views taken at in- 
tervals along the continuity of a movement. Such, for 
example, is the relation of modern to ancient geometry. 
The latter, purely static, worked with figures drawn 
once for all; the former studies the varying of a 
function—that is, the continuous movement by which 
the figure is described. No doubt, for greater strict- 



ness, all considerations of motion may be eliminated 
from mathematical processes ; but the introduction of 
motion into the genesis of figures is nevertheless the 
origin of modern mathematics. We believe that it 
biology could ever get as close to its object as mathe- 
matics does to its own, it would become, to the physics 
and chemistry of organized bodies, what the mathematics 
of the moderns has proved to be in relation to ancient 
geometry. The wholly superficial displacements of 
masses and molecules studied in physics and chemistry 
would become, by relation to that inner vital move- 
ment (which is transformation and not translation) what 
the position of a moving object is to the movement 
of that object in space. And, so far as we can see, the 
procedure by which we should then pass from the 
definition of a certain vital action to the system of 
physico-chemical facts which it implies would be like 
passing from the function to its derivative, from the 
equation of the curve (i.e. the law of the continuous 
movement by which the curve is generated) to the 
equation of the tangent giving its instantaneous 
direction. Such a science would be a mechanics of 
transformation, of which our mechanics of translation 
would become a particular case, a simplification, a pro- 
jection on the plane of pure quantity. And just as an 
infinity of functions have the same differential, these 
functions differing from each other by a constant, so 
perhaps the integration of the physico-chemical elements 
of properly vital action might determine that action only 
in part—a part would be left to indetermination. But 
such an integration can be no more than dreamed of ; 
we do not pretend that the dream will ever be realised. 
We are only trying, by carrying a certain comparison as 
far as possible, to show up to what point our theory 


goes along with pure mechanism, and where they part 

Imitation of the living by the unorganized may, 
however, go a good way. Not only does chemistry 
make organic syntheses, but we have succeeded in 
reproducing artificially the external appearance of certain 
facts of organization, such as indirect cell-division and 
protoplasmic circulation. It is well known that the 
protoplasm of the cell effects various movements within 
its envelope ; on the other hand, indirect cell-division 
is the outcome of very complex operations, some in- 
volving the nucleus and others the cytoplasm. These 
latter commence by the doubling of the centrosome, a 
small spherical body alongside the nucleus. The two 
centrosomes thus obtained draw apart, attract the broken 
and doubled ends of the filament of which the original 
nucleus mainly consisted, and join them to form two 
fresh nuclei about which the two new cells are con- 
structed which will succeed the first. Now, in their 
broad lines and in their external appearance, some at least 
of these operations have been successfully imitated. If 
some sugar or table salt is pulverized and some very old 
oil is added, and a drop of the mixture is observed under 
the microscope, a froth of alveolar structure is seen 
whose configuration is like that of protoplasm, according 
to certain theories, and in which movements take 
place which are decidedly like those of protoplasmic 
circulation.’ If, in a froth of the same kind, the air is 
extracted from an alveolus, a cone of attraction is seen 
to form, like those about the centrosomes which result 
in the division of the nucleus.? Even the external 

1 Batschli, Untersuchungen iiber mikroskopische Schaume und das Proto 
plasma, Leipzig, 1892, First Part. 

2 Rhumbler, “Versuch einer mechanischen Erklaérung der indirekten 
Zell- und Kernteilung” (Rouwx’s Archiv, 1896). 


motions of a unicellular organism—of an amoeba, at any 
rate—are sometimes explained mechanically. The dis- 
placements of an amoeba in a drop of water would be 
comparable to the motion to and fro of a grain of dust 
in a draughty room. Its mass is all the time absorbing 
certain soluble matters contained in the surrounding 
water, and giving back to it certain others; these 
continual exchanges, like those between two vessels 
separated by a porous partition, would create an ever- 
changing vortex around the little organism. As for 
the temporary prolongations or pseudopodia which the 
amoeba seems to make, they would be not so much 
given out by it as attracted from it by a kind of 
inhalation or suction of the surrounding medium.’ 
In the same way we may perhaps come to explain the 
more complex movements which the Infusorian makes 
with its vibratory cilia, which, moreover, are probably 
only fixed pseudopodia. 

But scientists are far from agreed on the value of 
explanations and schemas of this sort. Chemists have 
pointed out that even in the organic—not to go 
so far as the organized—science has reconstructed 
hitherto nothing but waste products of vital activity ; 
the peculiarly active plastic substances obstinately defy 
synthesis. One of the most notable naturalists of our 
time has insisted on the opposition of two orders of 
phenomena observed in living tissues, anagenesis and 
katagenesis. The rdle of the anagenetic energies is to 
raise the inferior energies to their own level by 
assimilating inorganic substances. They construct the 
tissues. On the other hand, the actual functioning of 

1 Berthold, Studien iber Protoplasmamechanik, Leipzig, 1886, p. 102. Cf. 
the explanation proposed by Le Dantec, Théorie nouvelle de la vie, Paris, 
1896, p. 60. 


life (excepting, of course, assimilation, growth, and 
reproduction) is of the katagenetic order, exhibiting 
the fall, not the rise, of energy. It is only with these 
facts of katagenetic order that physico-chemistry deals— 
that is, in short, with the dead and not with the living. 
The other kind of facts certainly seem to defy 
physico-chemical analysis, even if they are not anagenetic 
in the proper sense of the word. As for the artificial 
imitation of the outward appearance of protoplasm, 
should a real theoretic importance be attached to this 
when the question of the physical framework of 
protoplasm is not yet settled? We are still further 
from compounding protoplasm chemically. Finally, a 
physico-chemical explanation of the motions of the 
amoeba, and a fortiori of the behaviour of the In- 
fusoria, seems impossible to many of those whc 
have closely observed these rudimentary organisms. 
Even in these humblest manifestations of life they 
discover traces of an effective psychological activity.’ 
But instructive above all is the fact that the tendency 
to explain everything by physics and chemistry 1s 
discouraged rather than strengthened by deep study of 
histological phenomena. Such is the conclusion of the 
truly admirable book which the histologist E. B. 
Wilson has devoted to the development of the cell : 
“The study of the cell has, on the whole, seemed to 

1 Cope, The Primary Factors of Organic Evolution, Chicago, 1896, pp. 
475-484. ‘ 

2 Maupas, “Etude des infusoires ciliés” (Arch. de xoologie expérimentale, 
1883, pp. 47, 491, 518, 549, in particular). P. Vignon, Recherches de 
cytologie générale sur les épithéliums, Paris, 1902, p. 655. A profound study 
of the motions of the Infusoria and a very penetrating criticism of the 
idea of tropism have been made recently by Jennings (Contributions to the 
Study of the Behaviour of Lower Organisms, Washington, 1904). ‘The 
“type of behaviour” of these lower organisms, as Jennings defines it 
(pp. 237-252), is unquestionably of the psychological order. 


widen rather than to narrow the enormous gap that 
separates even the lowest forms of life from the 
inorganic world.” * 

To sum up, those who are concerned only with the 
functional activity of the living being are inclined to 
believe that physics and chemistry will give us the key 
to biological processes.” They have chiefly to do, as a 
fact, with phenomena that are repeated continually in 
the living being, as in a chemical retort. This explains, 
in some measure, the mechanistic tendencies of phy- 
siology. On the contrary, those whose attention is 
concentrated on the minute structure of living tissues, 
on their genesis and evolution, histologists and em- 

bryogenists on the one hand, naturalists on the other, 

are interested in the retort itself, not merely in its 
contents. They find that this retort creates its own 
form through a wnique series of acts that really con- 
stitute a history. Thus, histologists, embryogenists, 
and naturalists believe far less readily than physiologists 
in the physico-chemical character of vital actions. 

The fact is, neither one nor the other of these two 
theories, neither that which affirms nor that which 
denies the possibility of chemically producing an 
elementary organism, can claim the authority of experi- 
ment. They are both unverifiable, the former because 
science has not yet advanced a step toward the chemical 
synthesis of a living substance, the second because 
there is no conceivable way of proving experimentally 
the impossibility of a fact. But we have set forth the 
theoretical reasons which prevent us from likening the 
living being, a system closed off by nature, to the 

1 E. B. Wilson, The Cell in Development and Inheritance, New York, 

1897, p. 330. ; 
2 Dastre, La Vie et la mort, p. 43. 



systems which our science isolates. These reasons 
have less force, we acknowledge, in the case of a 
rudimentary organism like the amoeba, which hardly 
evolves at all. But they acquire more when we 
consider a complex organism which goes through a 
regular cycle of transformations. The more duration 
marks the living being with its imprint, the more 
obviously the organism differs from a mere mechanism, 
over which duration glides without penetrating. And 
the demonstration has most force when it applies to 
the evolution of life as a whole, from its humblest 
origins to its highest forms, inasmuch as this evolution 
constitutes, through the unity and continuity of the 
animated matter which supports it, a single indivisible 
history. Thus viewed, the evolutionist hypothesis 
does not seem so closely akin to the mechanistic 
conception of life as it is generally supposed to be. 
Of this mechanistic conception we do not claim, of 
course, to furnish a mathematical and final refutation. 

But the refutation which we draw from the consideration | 
of real time, and which is, in our opinion, the only | 

refutation possible, becomes the more rigorous and 
cogent the more frankly the evolutionist hypothesis is 
assumed. We must dwell a good deal more on this 
point. But let us first show more clearly the notion of 
life to which we are leading up. 

The mechanistic explanations, we said, hold good 
for the systems that our thought artificially detaches 
from the whole. But of the whole itself and of the 
systems which, within this whole, seem to take 
after it, we cannot admit a priori that they are 
mechanically explicable, for then time would be use- 
less, and even unreal. The essence of mechanical 
explanation, in fact, is to regard the future and the 

40 CREATIVE EVOLUTION CHAP. calculable functions of the present, and thus to 
claim that a@// is given. On this hypothesis, past, 
present and future would be open at a glance to a 
superhuman intellect capable of making the calculation. 
Indeed, the scientists who have believed in the 
universality and perfect objectivity of mechanical 
explanations have, consciously or unconsciously, acted 
on a hypothesis of this kind. Laplace formulated it 
with the greatest precision: “ An intellect which at a 
given instant knew all the forces with which nature is 
animated, and the respective situations of the beings 
that compose nature—supposing the said intellect were 
vast enough to subject these data to analysis—would 
embrace in the same formula the motions of the 
greatest bodies in the universe and those of the 
slightest atom : nothing would be uncertain for it, and 
the future, like the past, would be present to its eyes.” } 
And Du Bois-Reymond: “We can imagine the 
knowledge of nature arrived at a point where the 
universal process of the world might be represented by 
a single mathematical formula, by one immense system 
of simultaneous differential equations, from which 
could be deduced, for each moment, the position, 
direction, and velocity of every atom of the world.” ? 
Huxley has expressed the same idea in a more con- 
crete form: “If the fundamental proposition of 
evolution is true, that the entire world, living and not 
living, is the result of the mutual interaction, according 
to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules 
of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was 
composed, it is no less certain that the existing world 

1 Laplace, “Introduction a la théorie analytique des probabilités’ 
(Euvres completes, vol. vii., Paris, 1886, p. vi.). 

2 Du Bois-Reymond, Uber die Grenzen des Naturerkennens, Leipzig, 


lay, potentially, in the cosmic vapour, and that a 
sufficient intellect could, from a knowledge of the 
properties of the molecules of that vapour, have 
predicted, say the state of the Fauna of Great Britain 
in 1869, with as much certainty as one can say what 
will happen to the vapour of the breath on a cold 
winter’s day.” In such a doctrine, time is still spoken 
of : one pronounces the word, but one does not think 
of the thing. For time is here deprived of efficacy, and 
if it does nothing, it zs nothing. Radical mechanism 
implies a metaphysic in which the totality of the r real 
is postulated complete in eternity, and in which the 
apparent duration of things expresses merely the 
infirmity of a mind that cannot know everything at 
once. But duration is something very different from 
this for our consciousness, that is to say, for that which 
is most indisputable in our experience. We perceive 
duration as a stream against which we cannot go. It 
is the foundation of our being, and, as we feel, the 
very substance of the world in which we live. It is of 
no use to hold up before our eyes the dazzling pros- 
pect of a universal mathematic; we cannot sacrifice 
experience to the requirements of a system. That is 
why we reject radical mechanism. 

But radical finalism is quite as unacceptable, and for 
the same reason. The doctrine of teleology, in its 
extreme form, as we find it in Leibniz for example, im- 

plies that things and beings merely realize a programme © 

previously arranged. But if there is nothing unfore- 
seen, no invention or creation in the universe, time is 
useless again. Asin the mechanistic hypothesis, here 

again it is supposed that all is given. Finalism thus ~“*._ 

understood is only inverted mechanism. It springs 



from the same postulate, with this sole difference, that 
in the movement of our finite intellects along succes- 
sive things, whose successiveness is reduced to a mere 
appearance, it holds in front of us the light with which 
it claims to guide us, instead of putting it behind. 
It substitutes the attraction of the future for the 
impulsion of the past. But succession remains none 
the less a mere appearance, as indeed does movement 
itself. In the doctrine of Leibniz, time is reduced to 
a confused perception, relative to the human stand- 
point, a perception which would vanish, like a rising 
mist, for a mind seated at the centre of things. 

Yet finalism is not, like mechanism, a doctrine with 
fixed rigid outlines. It admits of as many inflections 
as we like. The mechanistic philosophy is to be 
taken or left : it must be left if the least grain of dust, 
by straying from the path foreseen by mechanics, should 
show the slightest trace of spontaneity. The doctrine 
of final causes, on the contrary, will never be defini- 
tively refuted. If one form of it be put aside, it will 
take another. Its principle, which is essentially psy- 
chological, is very flexible. It is so extensible, and 
thereby so comprehensive, that one accepts something 
of it as soon as one rejects pure mechanism. The 

ama we shall put forward in this book will therefore 
necessarily partake of finalism to a certain extent. For 
that reason it is important to intimate exactly what 
we are going to take of it, and what we mean to leave. 

Let us say at once that to thin out the Leibnizian 
finalism by breaking it into an infinite number of 
pieces seems to us a step in the wrong direction. 
This is, however, the tendency of the doctrine of 
finality. It fully realizes that if the universe as a whole 
is the carrying out of a plan, this cannot be demon- 


strated empirically, and that even of the organized 
world alone it is hardly easier to prove all harmonious : 
facts would equally well testify to the contrary. Nature 
sets living beings at discord with one another. She 
everywhere presents disorder alongside of order, retro- 
gression alongside of progress. But, though finality 
cannot be affirmed either of the whole of matter or 
of the whole of life, might it not yet be true, says the 
finalist, of each organism taken separately? Is there 
not a wonderful division of labour, a marvellous soli- 
darity among the parts of an organism, perfect order in 
infinite complexity ? Does not each living being thus 
realize a plan immanent in its substance ?—This theory 
consists, at bottom, in breaking up the original notion 
of finality into bits. It does not accept, indeed it 
ridicules, the idea of an external finality, according to 
which living beings are ordered with regard to each 
other : to suppose the grass made for the cow, the lamb 
for the wolf—that is all acknowledged to be absurd. 
But there is, we are told, an iusernal finality : each 
being is made for itself, all its parts conspire for 
the greatest good of the whole and are intelligently 
organized in view of that end. Such is the notion 
of finality which has long been classic. Finalism has 
shrunk to the point of never embracing more than one 
living being at a time. By making itself smaller, it 
probably thought it would offer less surface for blows. 

The truth is, it lay open to them a great deal more. 
Radical as our own theory may appear, finality is 
external or it is nothing at all. 

Consider the most complex and the most harmonious 
organism. All the elements, we are told, conspire for 
the greatest good of the whole. Very well, but let 
us not forget that each of these elements may itself be 


an organism in certain cases, and that in subordinating 
the existence of this small organism to the life of the 
great one we accept the principle of an exzernal finality. 
The idea of a finality that is a/ways internal is therefore 
a self-destructive notion. An organism is composed of 
tissues, each of which lives for itself. The cells of which 
the tissues are made have also a certain independence. 
Strictly speaking, if the subordination of all the elements 
of the individual to the individual itself were complete, 
we might contend that they are not organisms, reserve 
the name organism for the individual, and recognise 
only internal finality. But every one knows that 
these elements may possess a true autonomy. To say 
nothing of phagocytes, which push independence to 
the point of attacking the organism that nourishes 
them, or of germinal cells, which have their own life 
alongside the somatic cells,—the facts of regeneration 
are enough : here an element or a group of elements 
suddenly reveals that, however limited its normal space 
and function, it can transcend them occasionally ; it 
may even, in certain cases, be regarded as the equivalent 
of the whole. 

There lies the stumbling-block of the vitalistic 
theories. We shall not reproach them, as is ordinarily 
done, with replying to the question by the question 
itself: the “vital principle” may indeed not explain 
much, but it is at least a sort of label affixed to our 
ignorance, so as to remind us of this occasionally,! while 

1 There are really two lines to follow in contemporary neo-vitalism: on 
the one hand, the assertion that pure mechanism is insufficient, which assumes 
great authority when made by such scientists as Driesch or Reinke, for 
example ; and, on the other hand, the hypotheses which this vitalism super- 
poses on mechanism (the “entelechies ” of Driesch, and the “ dominants ” of 
Reinke, etc.). Of these two parts, the former is perhaps the more interesting 
See the admirable studies of Driesch—Die Lokalisation morphogenetischer 


mechanism invites us to ignore that ignorance. But the 
position of vitalism is rendered very difficult by the 
fact that, in nature, there is neither purely internal 
finality nor absolutely distinct individuality. The 
organized elements composing the individual have 
themselves a certain individuality, and each will claim 
its vital principle if the individual pretends to have 
its own. But, on the other hand, the individual itself 
is not sufficiently independent, not sufficiently cut off 
from other things, for us to allow it a “ vital principle” 
of its own. An organism such as a higher vertebrate 
is the most individuated of all organisms ; yet, if we 
take into account that it is only the development of an 
ovum forming part of the body of its mother and of 
a spermatozoon belonging to the body of its father, 
that the egg (ze. the ovum fertilized) is a connecting 
link between the two progenitors since it is common 
to their two substances, we shall realize that every 
individual organism, even that of a man, is merely a 
bud that has sprouted on the combined body of both 
its parents. Where, then, does the vital principle of 
the individual begin or end? Gradually we shall be 
carried further and further back, up to the individual’s 
remotest ancestors: we shall find him solidary with 
each of them, solidary with that little mass of proto- 
plasmic jelly which is probably at the root of the 
genealogical tree of life. Being, to a certain extent, 
one with this primitive ancestor, he is also solidary 
with all that descends from the ancestor in divergent 
directions. In this sense each individual may be 
Vorgdnge, Leipzig, 1899; Die organischen Regulationen, Leipzig, 1901 ; 
Naturbegriffe und Natururteile, Leipzig, 1904 ; Der Vitalismus als Geschichte 
und als Lehre, Leipzig, 1905 ; and of Reinke—Die Welt als Tat, Berlin, 

1899 ; Einleitung in die theoretische Biologie, Berlin, 1901 ; Philosophie der 
Botanik, Leipzig, 1905. 


said to remain united with the totality of living 
beings by invisible bonds. So it is of no use to try 
to restrict finality to the individuality of the living 
being. If there is finality in the world of life, it 
includes the whole of life in a single indivisible 
embrace. This life common to all the living un- 
doubtedly presents many gaps and incoherences, and 
again it is not so mathematically ove that it cannot 
allow each being to become individualized to a cer- 
tain degree. But it forms a single whole, none the 
less ; and we have to choose between the out-and- 
out negation of finality and the hypothesis which co- 
ordinates not only the parts of an organism with the 
organism itself, but also each living being with the 
collective whole of all others. 

Finality will not go down any easier for being 
taken asa powder. Either the hypothesis of a finality 
immanent in life should be rejected as a whole, or 
it must undergo a treatment very different from 

The error of radical finalism, as also that of radical 
_mechanism, is to extend too far the application of 
certain concepts that are natural to our intellect. 
Originally, we think only in ordef to ack. «(Our 
intellect has been cast in the mould of action. 
Speculation is a luxury, while action is a necessity. 
Now, in order to act, we begin by proposing an end ; 
we make a plan, then we go on to the detail of the 
mechanism which will bring it to pass. This latter 
operation is possible only if we know what we can 
reckon on. We must therefore have managed to 
extract resemblances from nature, which enable us to 
anticipate the future. Thus we must, consciously or 


unconsciously, have made use of the law of causality. 
Moreover, the more sharply the idea of efficient 
causality is defined in our mind, the more it takes 
the form of a mechanical causality. And this scheme, 
in its turn, is the more mathematical according as it 
expresses a more rigorous necessity. That is why we 
have only to follow the bent of our mind to become 
mathematicians. But, on the other hand, this natural 
mathematics is only the rigid unconscious skeleton 
beneath our conscious supple habit of linking the 
same causes to the same effects ; and the usual object 
of this habit is to guide actions inspired by intentions, 
or, what comes to the same, to direct movements com- 
bined with a view to reproducing a pattern. We are 
born artisans as we are born geometricians, and indeed 
we are geometricians only because we are artisans. 
Thus the human intellect, inasmuch as it is fashioned 
for the needs of human action, is an intellect which 
proceeds at the same time by intention and by calcula- 
tion, by adapting means to ends and by thinking out 
mechanisms of more and more geometrical form. 
Whether nature be conceived as an immense machine 
regulated by mathematical laws, or as the realization 
of a plan, these two ways of regarding it are only the 
consummation of two tendencies of mind which are 
complementary to each other, and which have their 
origin in the same vital necessities. 

For that reason, radical finalism is very near radical 
mechanism on many points. Both doctrines are reluct- 
ant to see in the course of things generally, or even 
simply in the development of life, an unforeseeable 
creation of form. In considering reality, mechanism 
regards only the aspect of similarity or repetition. It 
is therefore dominated by this law, that in nature there 


is only /ike reproducing /ike. ‘The more the geometry 
in mechanism is emphasized, the less can mechanism 
admit that anything is ever created, even pure form. 
In so far as we are geometricians, then, we reject the 
unforeseeable. We might accept it, assuredly, in so 
far aS we are artists, for art lives on creation and 
implies a latent belief in the spontaneity of nature. 
But disinterested art is a luxury, like pure specula- 
tion. Long before being artists, we are artisans ; and 
all fabrication, however rudimentary, lives on likeness 
and repetition, like the natural geometry which serves 
as its fulcrum. Fabrication works on models which 
it sets out to reproduce; and even when it invents, 
it proceeds, or imagines itself to proceed, by a new 
arrangement of elements already known. Its principle 
is that “we must have like to produce like.” In 
short, the strict application of the principle of finality, 
like that of the principle of mechanical causality, leads 

to the conclusion that “all is given.” Both principles 

say the same thing in their respective languages, because 
they respond to the same need. 

That is why again they agree in doing away with time. 
Real duration 1s that duration which gnaws on things, 
and leaves on them the mark of its tooth. If every- 
thing is in time, everything changes inwardly, and the 
same concrete reality never recurs. Repetition is there- 
fore possible only in the abstract: what is repeated is 
some aspect that our senses, and especially our intellect, 
have singled out from reality, just because our action, 
upon which all the effort of our intellect is directed, 
can move only among repetitions. Thus, concentrated 
on that which repeats, solely preoccupied in welding 
the same to the same, intellect turns away from the 
vision of time. It dislikes what is fluid, and solidifies 

everything it touchgs;-—We do not tht#k_real time. 

But we /ive it, ee el » The 
feeling we have of our evolution and e evolution 
of all things in pure duration is there, forming around 
the intellectual concept properly so-called an indistinct 
fringe that fades off into darkness. Mechanism and 
finalism agree in taking account only of the bright 
nucleus shining in the centre. They forget that this 
nucleus has been formed out of the rest by con- 
densation, and that the whole must be used, the fluid 
as well as and more than the condensed, in order to 
grasp the inner movement of life. 

Indeed, if the fringe exists, however delicate and 
indistinct, it should have more importance for philo- 
sophy than the bright nucleus it surrounds. For it is 
its presence that enables us to affirm that the nucleus 
is a nucleus, that pure intellect is a contraction, by con- 
densation, of a more extensive power. And, just 
because this vague intuition is of no help in directing 
our action on things, which action takes place ex- 
clusively on the surface of reality, we may presume 
that it is to be exercised not merely on the surface, 
but below. 

As soon as we go out of the encasings in which 
radical mechanism and radical finalism confine our 
thought, reality appears as a ceaseless upspringing of 
something new, which has no sooner arisen to make 
the present than it has already fallen back into the 
past ; at this exact moment it falls under the glance 
of the intellect, whose eyes are ever turned to the rear. 
This is already the case with our inner life. For each 
of our acts we shall easily find antecedents of which it 
may in some sort be said to be the mechanical resultant. 

And it may equally well be said that each action is the 


realization of an intention. In this sense mechanism 
is everywhere, and finality everywhere, in the evolu- 
tion of our conduct. But if our action be one that 
involves the whole of our person and is truly ours, 
it could not have been foreseen, even though its ante- 
cedents explain it when once it has been accomplished. 
And though it be the realizing of an intention, it 
differs, as a present and zew reality, from the intention, 
which can never aim at anything but recommencing or 
rearranging the past. Mechanism and finalism are 
therefore, here, only external views of our conduct. 
They extract its intellectuality. But our conduct slips 
between them and extends much further. Once again, 
this does not mean that free action is capricious, un- 
reasonable action. ‘To behave according to caprice is 
to oscillate mechanically between two or more ready- 
made alternatives and at length to settle on one of 
them ; it is no real maturing of an internal state, no 
real evolution ; it is merely—however paradoxical the 
assertion may seem—bending the will to imitate the 
mechanism of the intellect. A conduct that is truly 
our own, on the contrary, is that of a will which does 
not try to counterfeit intellect, and which, remaining 
itself{—that is to say, evolving—ripens gradually into 
acts which the intellect will be able to resolve in- 
definitely into intelligible elements without ever reach- 
ing its goal. The free act is incommensurable with 
the idea, and its “ rationality ’’ must be defined by this 
very incommensurability, which admits the discovery 
of as much intelligibility within it as we will. Such is 
the character of our own evolution ; and such also, 
without doubt, that of the evolution of life. 

Our reason, incorrigibly presumptuous, imagines 

itself possessed, by right of birth or by right of con- 


quest, innate or acquired, of all the essential elements 
of the knowledge of truth. Even where it confesses 
that it does not know the object presented to it, it 
believes that its ignorance consists only in not knowing 
which one of its time-honoured categories suits the 
new object. In what drawer, ready to open, shall we 
put it? In what garment, already cut out, shall we 
clothe it? Is it this, or that, or the other thing ? And 
“ this,” and “that,” and “the other thing” are always 
something already conceived, already known. The 
idea that for a new object we might have to create a 
new concept, perhaps a new method of thinking, is 
deeply repugnant to us. The history of philosophy is 
there, however, and shows us the eternal conflict of 
systems, the impossibility of satisfactorily getting the 
real into the ready-made garments of our ready-made 
concepts, the necessity of making to measure. But, 
| rather than go to this extremity, our reason prefers to 
announce once for all, with a proud modesty, that it has 
to do only with the relative, and that the absolute is not 
in its province. This preliminary declaration enables 
it to apply its habitual method of thought without 
any scruple, and thus, under pretence that it does 
not touch the absolute, to make absolute judgments 
upon everything. Plato was the first to set up the 
theory that to know the real consists in finding its Idea, 
that is to say, in forcing it into a pre-existing frame 
already at our disposal—as if we implicitly possessed 
universal knowledge. But this belief is natural to the 
human intellect, always engaged as it is in determining 
under what former heading it shall catalogue any new - 
object ; and it may be said that, in a certain sense, we 
are all born Platonists. ue 

Nowhere i is the inadequacy of this method so obvious 

Se a 


as in theories of life. If, in evolving in the direction 
of the vertebrates in general, of man and intellect in par- 
ticular, life has had to abandon by the way many elements 
incompatible with this particular mode of organization 
and consign them, as we shall show, to other lines of 
development, it is the totality of these elements that we 
must find again and rejoin to the intellect proper, in 
order to grasp the true nature of vital activity. And 
we shall probably be aided in this by the fringe of vague 
intuition that surrounds our distinct—that is, intellectual 
—representation. For what can this useless fringe be, 
if not that part of the evolving principle which has not 
shrunk to the peculiar form of our organization, but has 
settled around it unasked for, unwanted? It is there, 
accordingly, that we must look for hints to expand the 
intellectual form of our thought ; from there shall we 
_ derive the impetus necessary to lift us above ourselves. 
To form an idea of the whole of life cannot consist in 
combining simple ideas that have been left behind in us 
by life itself in the course of its evolution. How could 
the part be equivalent to the whole, the content to 
the container, a by-product of the vital operation to 
the operation itself? Such, however, is our illusion 
when we define the evolution of life as a “ passage from 
the homogeneous to the heterogeneous,” or by any 
other concept obtained by putting fragments of intellect 
side by side. We place ourselves in one of the points 
where evolution comes to a head—the principal one, 
no doubt, but not the only one; and there we do 
not even take all we find, for of the intellect we keep 
only one or two of the concepts by which it expresses 
itself; and it is this part of a part that we declare 
representative of the whole, of something indeed which 
goes beyond the concrete whole, I mean of the evolution 


movement of which this “whole” is only the present 
stage! The truth is, that to represent this the entire 
intellect would not be too much—nay, it would not be 
enough. It would be necessary to add to it what 
we find in every other terminal point of evolution. 
And these diverse and divergent elements must be 
considered as so many extracts which are, or at least 
which were, in their humblest form, mutually com- 
plementary. Only then might we have an inkling. of 
the real nature of the evolution movement ; and even 
then we should fail to grasp it completely, for we 
should still be dealing only with the evolved, which 
is a result, and not with evolution itself, which is the 
act by which the result is obtained. 

Such is the philosophy of life to which we are 
leading up. It claims to transcend both mechanism . 
and finalism ; but, as we announced at the beginning, | 
it is nearer the second doctrine than the first. It will, 
not be amiss to dwell on this point, and show more ¢ 
precisely how far this philosophy of life resembles © 
finalism and wherein it is different. 

Like radical finalism, although in a vaguer form, 
our philosophy represents the organized world as a 
harmonious whole. But this harmony is far from 
being as perfect as it has been claimed to be. It admits 
of much discord, because each species, each individual 
even, retains only a certain impetus from the universal 
vital impulsion and tends to use this energy in its own 
interest. In this consists adaptation. ‘The species and 
the individual thus think only of themselves—whence 
arises a possible conflict with other forms of life. 
Harmony, therefore, does not exist in fact; it exists 
rather in principle ; I mean that the original impetus 
is a common impetus, and the higher we ascend the 


stream of life the more do diverse tendencies appear 
complementary to each other. Thus the wind at a 
street corner divides into diverging currents which are 
all one and the same gust. Harmony, or rather 
“ complementarity,” is revealed only in the mass, in 
tendencies rather than in states. Especially (and this 
is the point on which finalism has been most seriously 
mistaken) harmony is rather behind us than before. It 
is due to an identity of impulsion and not toa common 
aspiration. It would be futile to try to assign to life 
an end, in the human sense of the word. To speak of 
an end is to think of a pre-existing model which has 
only to be realized. It is to suppose, therefore, that 
all is given, and that the future can be read in the 
present. It is to believe that life, in its movement and 
in its entirety, goes to work like our intellect, which 
is only a motionless and fragmentary view of life, and 
which naturally takes its stand outside of time. Life, 
on the contrary, progresses and endures in time. Of 
course, when once the road has been travelled, we 
can glance over it, mark its direction, note this in 
psychological terms and speak as if there had been 
pursuit of an end. Thus shall we speak ourselves. 
But, of the road which was going to be travelled, the 
human mind could have nothing to say, for the road 
has been created pari passu with the act of travelling 
over it, being nothing but the direction of this act itself. 
At every instant, then, evolution must admit of a 
psychological interpretation which is, from our point 
of view, the best interpretation ; but this explanation 
has neither value nor even significance except retrospec- 
tively. Never could the finalistic interpretation, such as 
we shall propose it, be taken for an anticipation of the 
future. It is a particular mode of viewing the past in 


the light of the present. In short, the classic conception 
of finality postulates at once too much and too little: 
it is both too wide and too narrow. In explaining life 
by intellect, it limits too much the meaning of life: 
intellect, such at least as we find it in ourselves, has 
been fashioned by evolution during the course of 
progress ; it is cut out of something larger, or, rather, 
it is only the projection, necessarily on a plane, of a 
reality that possesses both relief and depth. It is this 
more comprehensive reality that true finalism ought to 
reconstruct, or, rather, if possible, embrace in one view. 
But, on the other hand, just because it goes beyond 
intellect—the faculty of connecting the same with the 
same, of perceiving and also of producing repetitions— 
this reality is undoubtedly creative, i.e. productive of 
effects in which it expands and transcends its own being. 
These effects were therefore not given in it in advance, 
and so it could not take them for ends, although, when 
once produced, they admit of a rational interpretation, 
like that of the manufactured article that has reproduced 
amodel. In short, the theory of final causes does not 
go far enough when it confines itself to ascribing some 
intelligence to nature, and it goes too far when it 
supposes a pre-existence of the future in the present in 
the form of idea. And the second theory, which sins 
by excess, is the outcome of the first, which sins by 
defect. In place of intellect proper must be substituted 
the more comprehensive reality of which intellect is 
only the contraction. The future then appears as 
expanding the present: it was not, therefore, con- 
tained in the present in the form of a represented 
end. And yet, once realized, it will explain the present 
as much as the present explains it, and even more; 
it must be viewed as an end as much as, and more 


than, a result. Our intellect has a right to consider 
the future abstractly from its habitual point of view, 
being itself an abstract view of the cause of its own 

It is true that the cause may then seem beyond our 
grasp. Already the finalist theory of life eludes all 
precise verification. What if we go beyond it in one of 
its directions ? Here, in fact, after a necessary digres- 
sion, we are back at the question which we regard as 
essential : can the insufficiency of mechanism be proved 
by facts? We said that if this demonstration is 
possible, it is on condition of frankly accepting the 
evolutionist hypothesis. We must now show that if 
mechanism is insufficient to account for evolution, the 
way of proving this insufficiency is not to stop at the 
classic conception of finality, still less to contract or 
attenuate it, but, on the contrary, to go further. 

Let us indicate at once the principle of our demon- 
stration. We said of life that, from its origin, it is 
the continuation of one and the same impetus, 
divided into divergent lines of evolution. Something 
has grown, something has developed by a series of 
additions which have been so many creations. This 
very development has brought about a dissociation of 
tendencies which were unable to grow beyond a certain 
point without becoming mutually incompatible. Strictly 
speaking, there is nothing to prevent our imagining 
that the evolution of life might have taken place in one 
single individual by means of a series of transformations 
spread over thousands of ages. Or, instead of a single 
individual, any number might be supposed, succeeding 
each other in a unilinear series. In both cases evolu- 
tion would have had, so to speak, one dimension only. 
But evolution has actually taken place through millions 


of individuals, on divergent lines, each ending at a 
crossing from which new paths radiate, and so on 
indefinitely. If our hypothesis is justified, if the 
essential causes working along these diverse roads are 
of psychological nature, they must keep something in 
common in spite of the divergence of their effects, as 
school-fellows long separated keep the same memories 
of boyhood. Roads may fork or by-ways be opened 
along which dissociated elements may evolve in an inde- 
pendent manner, but nevertheless it is in virtue of the 
primitive impetus of the whole that the movement of 
the parts continues. Something of the whole, therefore, 
must abide in the parts; and this common element 
will be evident to us in some way, perhaps by the 
presence of identical organs in very different organisms. 
Suppose, for an instant, that the mechanistic explana- 
tion is the true one: evolution must then have occurred 
through a series of accidents added to one another, 
each new accident being preserved by selection if it 
is advantageous to that sum of former advantageous 
accidents which the present form of the living being 
represents. What likelihood is there that, by two 
entirely different series of accidents being added to- 
gether, two entirely different evolutions will arrive at 
similar results? The more two lines of evolution 
diverge, the less probability is there that accidental outer 
influences or accidental inner variations bring about the 
construction of the same apparatus upon them, especially 
if there was no trace of this apparatus at the moment 
of divergence. But such similarity of the two products 
would be natural, on the contrary, on a hypothesis like 
ours : even in the latest channel there would be some- 
thing of the impulsion received at the source. Pure 
mechanism, then, would be refutable, and finality, in 


the special sense in which we understand it, would be 
demonstrable in a certain aspect, if it could be proved that 
life may manufacture the like apparatus, by unlike means, 
on divergent lines of evolution; and the strength of the proof 
would be proportional both to the divergency between the 
lines of evolution thus chosen and to the complexity of the 
similar structures found in them. 

It will be said that resemblance of structure is due 
to sameness of the general conditions in which life has 
evolved, and that these permanent outer conditions may 
have imposed the same direction on the forces con- 
structing this or that apparatus, in spite of the diversity 
of transient outer influences and accidental inner changes. 
We are not, of course, blind to the rdle which the 
concept of adaptation plays in the science of to-day. 
Biologists certainly do not all make the same use of it. 
Some think the outer conditions capable of causing 
change in organisms in a direct manner, in a definite 
direction, through physico-chemical alterations induced 
by them in the living substance ; such is the hypothesis 
of Eimer, for example. Others, more faithful to the 
spirit of Darwinism, believe the influence of conditions 
works indirectly only, through favouring, in the struggle 
for life, those representatives of a species which the 
chance of birth has best adapted to the environment. 
In other words, some attribute a positive influence to 
outer conditions, and say that they actually give rise to 
variations, while the others say these conditions have 
only a negative influence and merely eliminate variations. 
But, in both cases, the outer conditions are supposed 
to bring about a precise adjustment of the organism to 
its circumstances. Both parties, then, will attempt to 
explain mechanically, by adaptation to similar condi- 
tions, the similarities of structure which we think are 


the strongest argument against mechanism. So we 
must at once indicate in a general way, before passing , 
to the detail, why explanations from “adaptation” seem 
to us insufficient. 

Let us first remark that, of the two hypotheses 
just described, the latter is the only one which is not 
equivocal. The Darwinian idea of adaptation by auto- 
matic elimination of the unadapted is a simple and clear 
idea. But, just because it attributes to the outer cause 
which controls evolution a merely negative influence, 
it has great difficulty in accounting for the progressive 
and, so to say, rectilinear development of complex 
apparatus such as we are about to examine. How 
much greater will this difficulty be in the case of the 
similar structure of two extremely complex organs 
on two entirely different lines of evolution! An 
accidental variation, however minute, implies the 
working of a great number of small physical and 
chemical causes. An accumulation of accidental varia- 
tions, such as would be necessary to produce a com- 
plex structure, requires therefore the concurrence 
of an almost infinite number of infinitesimal causes. 
Why should these causes, entirely accidental, recur the 
same, and in the same order, at different points of space 
and time? No one will hold that this is the case, 

and the Darwinian himself will probably merely main- 

tain that identical effects may arise from different causes, 
that more than one road leads to the same spot. But 
let us not be fooled by a metaphor. The place reached 
does not give the form of the road that leads there ; 
while an organic structure is just the accumulation of 
those small differences which evolution has had to go 
through in order to achieve it. The struggle for life 
and natural selection can be of no use to us in solving 


this part of the problem, for we are not concerned here 
with what has perished, we have to do only with what 
has survived. Now, we see that identical structures 
have been formed on independent lines of evolution by 
a gradual accumulation of effects. How can accidental 
causes, occurring in an accidental order, be supposed 
to have repeatedly come to the same result, the causes 
being infinitely numerous and the effect infinitely 
complicated ? | 

The principle of mechanism is that “ the same causes 
produce the same effects.” This principle, of course, 
does not always imply that the same effects must have 
the same causes ; but it does involve this consequence 
in the particular case in which the causes remain visible 
in the effect that they produce and are indeed its 
constitutive elements. That two walkers starting from 
different points and wandering at random should finally 
meet, is no great wonder. But that, throughout their 
walk, they should describe two identical curves exactly 
superposable on each other, is altogether unlikely. The 
improbability will be the greater, the more complicated 
the routes ; and it will become impossibility, if the 
zigzags are infinitely complicated. Now, what is this 
complexity of zigzags as compared with that of an 
organ in which thousands of different cells, each being 
itself a kind of organism, are arranged in a definite 
order ? 

Let us turn, then, to the other hypothesis, and see 
how it would solve the problem. Adaptation, it says, 
is not merely elimination of the unadapted ; it is due 
to the positive influence of outer conditions that have 
moulded the organism on their own form. This time, 
similarity of effects will be explained by similarity of 
cause. We shall remain, apparently, in pure mechanism. 


But if we look closely, we shall see that the explanation 
is merely verbal, that we are again the dupes of words, 
and that the trick of the solution consists in taking the 
term “adaptation” in two entirely different senses at 
the same time. : 

If I pour into the same glass, by turns, water and 
wine, the two liquids will take the same form, and the 
sameness in form will be due to the sameness in 
adaptation of content to container. Adaptation, here, 
really means mechanical adjustment. The reason ies 
that the form to which the matter has adapted itself 
was there, ready-made, and has forced its own shape 
on the matter. But, in the adaptation of an organism 
to the circumstances it has to live in, where is the pre- 
existing form awaiting its matter? The circumstances 
are not a mould into which life is inserted and whose 
form life adopts: this is indeed to be fooled by a 
metaphor. ‘There is no form yet, and life must create 
a form for itself, suited to the circumstances which are 
made for it. It will have to make the best of these 
circumstances, neutralize their inconveniences and 
utilize their advantages—in short, respond to outer 
actions by building up a machine which has no re- 
semblance to them. Such adapting is not repeating, but 
replying,—an entirely different thing. If there is still 
adaptation, it will be in the sense in which one may say 
of the solution of a problem of geometry, for example, 
that it is adapted to the conditions. I grant indeed 
that adaptation so understood explains why different 
evolutionary processes result in similar forms: the same 
problem, of course, calls for the same solution. But 
it is necessary then to introduce, as for the solution of a 
problem of geometry, an intelligent activity, or at least 
a cause which behaves in the same way. This is to bring 


in finality again, and a finality this time more than ever 
charged with anthropomorphic elements. In a word, if 
the adaptation is passive, if it is mere repetition in the 
relief of what the conditions give in the mould, it will 
build up nothing that one tries to make it build ; and 
if it is active, capable of responding by a calculated solu- 
tion to the problem which is set out in the conditions, 
that is going further than we do—too far, indeed, in 
our opinion—in the direction we indicated in the 
beginning. But the truth is that there is a surreptitious 
passing from one of these two meanings to the other, 
a flicht for refuge to the first whenever one is about to 
be caught in flagrante delicto of finalism by employing 
the second. It is really the second which serves the 
usual practice of science, but it is the first that generally 
provides its philosophy. In any particular case one 
talks as if the process of adaptation were an effort of 
the organism to build up a machine capable of turning 
external circumstances to the best possible account : 
then one speaks of adaptation in general as if it were 
the very impress of circumstances, passively received 
by an indifferent matter. 

But let us come to the examples. It would be 
interesting first to institute here a general comparison 
between plants and animals. One cannot fail to be 
struck with the parallel progress which has been accom- 
plished, on both sides, in the direction of sexuality. 
Not only is fecundation itself the same in higher plants 
and in animals, since it consists, in both, in the 
union of two nuclei that differ in their properties and 
structure before their union and immediately after 
become equivalent to each other ; but the preparation 
of sexual elements goes on in both under like con- 
ditions : it consists essentially in the reduction of the 


number of chromosomes and the rejection of a certain 
quantity of chromatic substance. Yet vegetables and 
animals have evolved on independent lines, favoured 
_by unlike circumstances, opposed by unlike obstacles. 
Here are two great series which have gone on 
diverging. On either line, thousands and thousands 
of causes have combined to determine the morpho- 
logical and functional evolution. Yet these infinitely 
complicated causes have been consummated, in each 
series, in the same effect. And this effect could 
hardly be called a phenomenon of “adaptation” : 
where is the adaptation, where is the pressure of 
external circumstances? There is no striking utility 
in sexual generation ; it has been interpreted in the 
most diverse ways; and some very acute enquirers 
even regard the sexuality of the plant, at least, as a 
luxury which nature might have dispensed with.” But 
we do not wish to dwell on facts so disputed. The 
ambiguity of the term “ adaptation,” and the necessity 
of transcending both the point of view of mechanical 
causality and that of anthropomorphic finality, will 
stand out more clearly with simpler examples. At all 
times the doctrine of finality has laid much stress on 
the marvellous structure of the sense-organs, in order 
to liken the work of nature to that of an intelligent 
workman. Now, since these organs are found, in a 
rudimentary state, in the lower animals, and since 
nature offers us many intermediaries between the 
pigment-spot of the simplest organisms and the in- 

1 P. Guérin, Les Connaissances actuelles sur la fécondation chez les pha- 
nérogames, Paris, 1904, pp. 144-148. Cf. Delage, L’ Hérédité, 2nd edition, 

1903, pp. 140 ff. 

2 Mobius, Beitrage zur Lehre von der Fortpflanzung der Gewdchse, Jena, 
1897, pp. 203-206 in particular. Cf. Hartog, “Sur les phénomenes de re- 
production” (Année biologique, 1895, pp. 707-709). 


finitely complex eye of the vertebrates, it may just as 
well be alleged that the result has been brought about 
by natural selection perfecting the organ automatically. 
In short, if there is a case in which it seems justifiable 
to invoke adaptation, it is this particular one. For 
there may be discussion about the function and mean- 
ing of such a thing as sexual generation, in so far as 
it is related to the conditions in which it occurs ; but 
the relation of the eye to light is obvious, and when 
we call this relation an adaptation, we must know what 
we mean. If, then, we can show, in this privileged 
case, the insufficiency of the principles invoked on both 
sides, our demonstration will at once have reached a 
high degree of generality. 

Let us consider the example on which the advocates 
of finality have always insisted: the structure of such 
an organ as the human eye. They have had no diffi- 
culty in showing that in this extremely complicated 
apparatus all the elements are marvellously co- 
ordinated. In order that vision shall operate, says the 
author of a well-known book on Final Causes, “the 
sclerotic membrane must become transparent in one 
point of its surface, so as to enable luminous rays to 
pierce it. ..; the cornea must correspond exactly 
with the opening of the socket . . .; behind this 
transparent opening there must be refracting media 
. . .3 there must be a retina’ at the extremity of the 
dark chamber . . .; perpendicular to the retina there 
must be an innumerable quantity of transparent cones 
permitting only the light directed in the line of their 
axes to reach the nervous membrane,” etc. etc. In 
reply, the advocate of final causes has been invited to 

1 Paul Janet, Les Causes finales, Paris, 1876, p. 83. 
2 Ibid. p. 80. 


assume the evolutionist hypothesis. Everything is 
marvellous, indeed, if one consider an eye like ours, in 
which thousands of elements are codrdinated in a 
single function. But take the function at its origin, in 
the Infusorian, where it is reduced to the mere impres- 
sionability (almost purely chemical) of a pigment-spot 
to light: this function, possibly only an accidental 
fact in the beginning, may have brought about a slight 
complication of the organ, which again induced an 
improvement of the function. It may have done this 
either directly, through some unknown mechanism, or 
indirectly, merely through the effect of the advantages it 
brought to the living being and the hold it thus offered 
to natural selection. Thus the progressive formation 
of an eye as well contrived as ours would be explained 
by an almost infinite number of actions and reactions 
between the function and the organ, without the inter- 
vention of other than mechanical causes. 

The question is hard to decide, indeed, when 
put directly between the function and the organ, as 
is done in the doctrine of finality, as also mechanism 
itself does. For organ and function are terms of 
different nature, and each conditions the other so 
closely that it is impossible to say @ priori whether in 
expressing their relation we should begin with the first, 
as does mechanism, or with the second, as finalism 
requires. But the discussion would take an entirely 
different turn, we think, if we began by comparing 
together two terms of the same nature, an organ with 
an organ, instead of an organ with its function. In 
this case, it would be possible to proceed little by little 
to a solution more and more plausible, and there would 
be the more chance of a successful issue the more 
resolutely we assumed the evolutionist hypothesis. 



Let us place side by side the eye of a vertebrate 
and that of a mollusc such as the common Pecten. 
We find the same essential parts in each, composed of 
analogous elements. The eye of the Pecten presents 
a retina, a cornea, a lens of cellular structure like 
our own. ‘There is even that peculiar inversion of 
retinal elements which is not met with, in general, 
in the retina of the invertebrates. Now, the origin 
of molluscs may be a debated question, but, what- 
ever opinion we hold, all are agreed that molluscs 
and vertebrates separated from their common parent- 
stem long before the appearance of an eye so complex 
as that of the Pecten. Whence, then, the structural 
analogy = 

Let us question on this point the two opposed 
systems of evolutionist explanation in turn—the hypo- 
thesis of purely accidental variations, and that of a 
variation directed in a definite way under the influence 
of external conditions. 

The first, as is well known, is presented to-day in 
two quite different forms. Darwin spoke of very 
slight variations being accumulated by natural selection. 
He was not ignorant of the facts of sudden variation ; 
but he thought these “ sports,’’ as he called them, were 
only monstrosities incapable of perpetuating them- 
selves ; and he accounted for the genesis of species by 
an accumulation of imsensible variations.’ Such is still 
the opinion of many naturalists. It is tending, how- 
ever, to give way to the opposite idea that a new 
species comes into being all at once by the simultaneous 
appearance of several new characters, all somewhat 
different from the previous ones. This latter hypo- 
thesis, already proposed by various authors, notably 

1 Darwin, Origin of Species, chap. ii. 


by Bateson in a remarkable book,’ has become deeply 
significant and acquired great force since the striking 
experiments of Hugo de Vries. This botanist, work- 
ing on the Oenothera Lamarckiana, obtained at the 
end of a few generations a certain number of new 
species. The theory he deduces from his experiments 
is of the highest interest. Species pass through 
alternate periods of stability and transformation. 
When the period of “ mutability ’’ occurs, unexpected 
forms spring forth in a great number of different 
directions. We will not attempt to take sides between 
this hypothesis and that of insensible variations. 
Indeed, perhaps both are partly true. We wish 
merely to point out that if the variations invoked are 
accidental, they do not, whether small or great, account 
for a similarity of structure such as we have cited. 

Let us assume, to begin with, the Darwinian theory 
of insensible variations, and suppose the occurrence of 
small differences due to chance, and continually accumu- 
lating. It must not be forgotten that all the parts 
of an organism are necessarily codrdinated. Whether 
the function be the effect of the organ or its cause, it 
matters little ; one point is certain—the organ will be 
of no use and will not give selection a hold unless it 
functions. However the minute structure of the 
retina may develop, and however complicated it may 
become, such progress, instead of favouring vision, 
will probably hinder it if the visual centres do not 
develop at the same time, as well as several parts of 
the visual organ itself. If the variations are accidental, 

1 Bateson, Materials for the Study of Variation, London, 1894, especially 
pp. 567 ff. Cf. Scott, “Variations and Mutations” (American Journal of 
Science, Nov. 1894). 

2 De Vries, Die Mutationstheorie, Leipzig, 1901-1903. Cf., by the same 
author, Species and Varieties, Chicago, 1905. 


how can they ever agree to arise in every part of the 
organ at the same time, in such way that the organ 
will continue to perform its function? Darwin quite 
understood this; it is one of the reasons why he 
regarded variation as insensible.’ For a difference 
which arises accidentally at one point of the visual 
apparatus, if it be very slight, will not hinder the 
functioning of the organ; and hence this first 
accidental variation can, in a sense, wait for comple- 
mentary variations to accumulate and raise vision to a 
higher degree of perfection. Granted ; but while the 
insensible variation does not hinder the functioning 
of the eye, neither does it help it, so long as the varia- 
tions that are complementary do not occur. How, 
in that case, can the variation be retained by natural 
selection? Unwittingly one will reason as if the slight 
variation were a toothing stone set up by the organism 
and reserved for a later construction. This hypothesis, 
so little conformable to the Darwinian principle, is 
difficult enough to avoid even in the case of an organ 
which has been developed along one single main line of 
evolution, e.g. the vertebrate eye. But it is absolutely 
forced upon us when we observe the likeness of 
structure of the vertebrate eye and that of the molluscs. 
How could the same small variations, incalculable in 
number, have ever occurred in the same order on two 
independent lines of evolution, if they were purely 
accidental? And how could they have been preserved 
by selection and accumulated in both cases, the same 
in the same order, when each of them, taken separately, 
was of no use? 

Let us turn, then, to the hypothesis of sudden 
variations, and see whether it will solve the problem. 

1 Darwin, Origin of Species, chap. vi. 


It certainly lessens the difficulty on one point, but it 
makes it much worse on another. If the eye of the 
mollusc and that of the vertebrate have both been 
raised to their present form by a relatively small number 
of sudden leaps, I have less difficulty in understand- 
ing the resemblance of the two organs than if this 
resemblance were due to an incalculable number of 
infinitesimal resemblances acquired successively: in 
both cases it is chance that operates, but in the second 
case chance is not required to work the miracle it 
would have to perform in the first. Not only is 
the number of resemblances to be added somewhat 
reduced, but I can also understand better how each 
could be preserved and added to the others ; for the 
elementary variation is now considerable enough to be 
an advantage to the living being, and so to lend itself 
to the play of selection. But here there arises another 
problem, no less formidable, viz., how do all the parts 
of the visual apparatus, suddenly changed, remain so 
well codrdinated that the eye continues to exercise 
its function? For the change of one part alone will 
make vision impossible, unless this change is absolutely 
infinitesimal. The parts must then all change at once, 
each consulting the others. I agree that a great 
number of uncodrdinated variations may indeed have 
arisen in less fortunate individuals, that natural selec- 
tion may have eliminated these, and that only the 
combination fit to endure, capable of preserving and 
improving vision, has survived. Still, this combina- 
tion had to be produced. And, supposing chance to 
have granted this favour once, can we admit that it 
repeats the self-same favour in the course of the history 
of a species, so as to give rise, every time, all at once, to 
new complications marvellously regulated with reference 


to each other, and so related to former complications 
as to go further on in the same direction? How, 
especially, can we suppose that by a series of mere 
“accidents” these sudden variations occur, the same, 
in the same order,—involving in each case a perfect 
harmony of elements more and more numerous and 
complex,—along two independent lines of evolution ? 

The law of correlation will be invoked, of course ; 
Darwin himself appealed to it.’ It will be alleged 
that a change is not localized in a single point of the 
organism, but has its necessary recoil on other points. 
The examples cited by Darwin remain classic : white 
cats with blue eyes are generally deaf; hairless dogs 
have imperfect dentition, etc.—Granted ; but let us not 
play now on the word “correlation.” A _ collective 
whole of so/idary changes is one thing, a system of 
complementary changes — changes so codrdinated as 
to keep up and even improve the functioning of an 
organ under more complicated conditions—is another. 
That an anomaly of the pilous system should be 
accompanied by an anomaly of dentition is quite 
conceivable without our having to call for a special 
principle of explanation; for hair and teeth are 
similar formations,’ and the same chemical change of 
the germ that hinders the formation of hair would 
probably obstruct that of teeth: it may be for the 
same sort of reason that white cats with blue eyes 
are deaf. In these different examples the “ cor- 
relative” changes are only solidary changes (not to 
mention the fact that they are really J/esions, namely, 
diminutions or suppressions, and not additions, which 

1 Darwin, Origin of Species, chap. i. af 

2 On this homology of hair and teeth, see Brandt, “Uber . . . eine 

mutmassliche Homologie der Haare und Zahne” (Biol. Centralblatt, vol. 
XVill., 1898, especially pp. 262 ff.). 


makes a great difference). But when we speak of 
“correlative” changes occurring suddenly in the 
different parts of the eye, we use the word in an 
entirely new sense: this time there is a whole set 
of changes not only simultaneous, not only bound 
together by community of origin, but so codrdinated 
that the organ keeps on performing the same simple 
function, and even performs it better. That a change 
in the germ, which influences the formation of the 
retina, may affect at the same time also the formation 
of the cornea, the iris, the lens, the visual centres, etc., 
I admit, if necessary, although they are formations that 
differ much more from one another in their original 
nature than do probably hair and teeth. But that all 
these simultaneous changes should occur in such a way 
as to improve or even merely maintain vision, this is 
what, in the hypothesis of sudden variation, I cannot 
admit, unless a mysterious principle is to come in, 
whose duty it is to watch over the interest of the 
function. But this would be to give up the idea of 
“accidental” variation. In reality, these two senses of 
the word “correlation” are often interchanged in the 
mind of the biologist, just like the two senses of the 
word ‘‘adaptation.” And the confusion is almost 
legitimate in botany, that science in which the theory 
of the formation of species by sudden variation rests 
on the firmest experimental basis. In vegetables, 
function is far less narrowly bound to form than 
in animals. Even profound morphological differences, 
such as a change in the form of leaves, have no appreci- 
able influence on the exercise of function, and so do not 
require a whole system of complementary changes for 
the plant to remain fit to survive. But it is not so in 
the animal, especially in the case of an organ like the eye, 


of very complex structure and very delicate function. 
Here it is impossible to identify changes that are simply 
solidary with changes which are also complementary. 
The two senses of the word “correlation” must be 
carefully distinguished; it would be a downright 
paralogism to adopt one of them in the premisses of 
the reasoning, and the other in the conclusion. And 
this is just what is done when the principle of correlation 
is invoked in explanations of detai/ in order to account 
for complementary variations, and then correlation 
in general is spoken of as if it were any group of 
variations provoked by any variation of the germ. 
Thus, the notion of correlation is first used in current 
science as it might be used by an advocate of finality ; 
it is understood that this is only a convenient way of 
expressing oneself, that one will correct it and fall back 
on pure mechanism when explaining the nature of the 
principles and turning from science to philosophy. 
And one does then come back to pure mechanism, 
but only by giving a new meaning to the word 
 correlation,’—a meaning which would now make 
correlation inapplicable to the detail it is called upon 
to explain. 

To sum up, if the accidental variations that bring 
about evolution are insensible variations, some good 
genius must be appealed to—the genius of the 
future species—in order to preserve and accumulate 
these variations, for selection will not look after this. 
If, on the other hand, the accidental variations are 
sudden, then, for the previous function to go on or 
for a new function to take its place, all the changes 
that have happened together must be complementary. 
So we have to fall back on the good genius again, 
this time to obtain the convergence of simultaneous 


changes, as before to be assured of the continuity of 
direction of successive variations. But in neither case can 
parallel development of the same complex structures 

on independent lines of evolution be due to a mere 

accumulation of accidental variations. So we come 
to the second of the two great hypotheses we have 
to examine. Suppose the variations are due, not to 
accidental and inner causes, but to the direct influence 
of outer circumstances. Let us see what line we 
should have to take, on this hypothesis, to account 
for the resemblance of eye-structure in two series that 
are independent of each other from the phylogenetic 
point of view. 

Though molluscs and vertebrates have evolved 
separately, both have remained exposed to the influence 
of light. And light is a physical cause bringing forth 
certain definite effects. Acting in a continuous way, 
it has been able to produce a continuous variation 
in a constant direction. Of course it is unlikely 
that the eye of the vertebrate and that of the mollusc 
have been built up by a series of variations due to 
simple chance. Admitting even that light enters into 
the case as an instrument of selection, in order to 
allow only useful variations to persist, there is no 
possibility that the play of chance, even thus supervised 
from without, should bring about in both cases the 
same juxtaposition of elements codrdinated in the same 
way. But it would be different supposing that light 
acted directly on the organized matter so as to change 
its structure and somehow adapt this structure to its 
own form. ‘The resemblance of the two effects would 
then be explained by the identity of the cause. The 
more and more complex eye would be something like 
the deeper and deeper imprint of light on a matter 


which, being organized, possesses a special aptitude for 
receiving it. 

But can an organic structure be likened to an 
imprint? We have already called attention to the 
ambiguity of the term “adaptation.” The gradual 
complication of a form which is being better and better 
adapted to the mould of outward circumstances is one 
thing, the increasingly complex structure of an instru- 
ment which derives more and more advantage from 
these circumstances is another. In the former case, the 
matter merely receives an imprint ; in the second, it 
reacts positively, it solves a problem. Obviously it is 
this second sense of the word “adapt” that is used 
when one says that the eye has become better and better 
adapted to the influence of light. But one passes more 
or less unconsciously from this sense to the other, and 
a purely mechanistic biology will strive to make the 
passive adaptation of an inert matter, which submits 
to the influence of its environment, mean the same as 
the active adaptation of an organism which derives from 
this influence an advantage it can appropriate. It must 
be owned, indeed, that Nature herself appears to invite 
our mind to confuse these two kinds of adaptation, for 
she usually begins by a passive adaptation where, later 
on, she will build up a mechanism for active response. 
Thus, in the case before us, it is unquestionable that 
the first rudiment of the eye is found in the pigment- 
spot of the lower organisms ; this spot may indeed 
have been produced physically, by the mere action of 
light, and there are a great number of intermediaries 
between the simple spot of pigment and a complicated 
eye like that of the vertebrates.—But, from the fact 
that we pass from one thing to another by degrees, it 
does not follow that the two things are of the same 


nature. From the fact that an orator falls in, at first, 
with the passions of his audience in order to make 
himself master of them, it will not be concluded that to 

follow is the same as to Jead. Now, living matter 

seems to have no other means of turning circumstances 
to good account than by adapting itself to them 
passively at the outset. Where it has to direct a 
movement, it begins by adopting it. Life proceeds 
by insinuation. The intermediate degrees between a 
pigment-spot and an eye are nothing to the point: 
however numerous the degrees, there will still be 
the same interval between the pigment-spot and the 
eye as between a photograph and a photographic 
apparatus. Certainly the photograph has been gradu- 
ally turned into a photographic apparatus ; but could 
light alone, a physical force, ever have provoked this 
change, and converted an impression left by it into a 
machine capable of using it ? 

It may be claimed that considerations of utility are 
out of place here ; that the eye is not made to see, but 
that we see because we have eyes; that the organ 1s 
what it is, and “utility” is a word by which we 
designate the functional effects of the structure. But 
when I say that the eye “ makes use of” light, I do not 
merely mean that the eye is capable of seeing ; I allude 
to the very precise relations that exist between this 
organ and the apparatus of locomotion. The retina of 
vertebrates is prolonged in an optic nerve, which, again, 
is continued by cerebral centres connected with motor 
mechanisms. Our eye makes use of light in that it 
enables us to utilize, by movements of reaction, the 
objects that we see to be advantageous, and to avoid 
those which we see to be injurious. Now, of course, 
as light may have produced a pigment-spot by physical 


means, so it can physically determine the movements 
of certain organisms ; ciliated Infusoria, for instance, 
react to light. But no one would hold that the in- 
fluence of light has physically caused the formation of 
a nervous system, of a muscular system, of an osseous 
system, all things which are continuous with the 
apparatus of vision in vertebrate animals. The truth 
is, when one speaks of the gradual formation of the eye, 
and, still more, when one takes into account all that 
is inseparably connected with it, one brings in some- 
thing entirely different from the direct action of light. 
One implicitly attributes to organized matter a certain 
capacity sui generis, the mysterious power of building 
up very complicated machines to utilize the simple 
excitation that it undergoes. 

But this is just what is claimed to be unnecessary. 
Physics and chemistry are said to give us the key to 
everything. Eimer’s great work is instructive in this 
respect. It is well known what persevering effort this 
biologist has devoted to demonstrating that transforma- 
tion is brought about by the influence of the external on 
the internal, continuously exerted in the same direction, 
and not, as Darwin held, by accidental variations. His 
theory rests on observations of the highest interest, of 
which the starting-point was the study of the course 
followed by the colour variation of the skin in certain 
lizards. Before this, the already old experiments of 
Dorfmeister had shown that the same chrysalis, accord- 
ing as it was submitted to cold or heat, gave rise 
to very different butterflies, which had long been 
regarded as independent species, Vanessa levana and 
Vanessa prorsa: an intermediate temperature produces 
an intermediate form. We might class with these 
facts the important transformations observed in a little 


crustacean, Artemia salina, when the salt of the water it 
lives in is increased or diminished.’ In these various 
experiments the external agent seems to act as a cause 
of transformation. But what does the word “cause” 
mean here? Without undertaking an exhaustive 
analysis of the idea of causality, we will merely remark 
that three very different meanings of this term are 
commonly confused. A cause may act by impelling, 
releasing, or unwinding. The billiard-ball, that strikes 
another, determines its movement by impelling. The 
spark that explodes the powder acts by releasing. ‘The 
gradual relaxing of the spring that makes the phono- 
eraph turn, unwinds the melody inscribed on the 
cylinder : if the melody which is played be the effect, 
and the relaxing of the spring the cause, we must 
say that the cause acts by unwinding. What distin- 
guishes these three cases from each other is the 
greater or less solidarity between the cause and the 
effect. In the first, the quantity and quality of the 
effect vary with the quantity and quality of the cause. 
In the second, neither quality nor quantity of the 
effect varies with quality and quantity of the cause: 
the effect is invariable. In the third, the quantity 
of the effect depends on the quantity of the cause, 
but the cause does not influence the quality of the 
effect: the longer the cylinder turns by the action of 
the spring, the more of the melody I shall hear, but the 
nature of the melody, or of the part heard, does not 
depend on the action of the spring. Only in the first 
case, really, does cause explain effect; in the others 
the effect is more or less given in advance, and the 

1 It seems, from later observations, that the transformation of Artemia is 
a more complex phenomenon than was first supposed. See on this subject 
Samter and Heymons, “ Die Variation bei Artemia salina” (Anhang xu den 
Abhandlungen der k. preussischen Akad. der Wissenschaften, 1902). 


antecedent invoked is—in different degrees, of course 
—its occasion rather than its cause. Now, in saying ~ 
that the saltness of the water is the cause of the trans- 
formations of Artemia, or that the degree of tempera- 
ture determines the colour and marks of the wings 
which a certain chrysalis will assume on becoming a 
butterfly, is the word “ cause” used in the first sense ? 
Obviously not: causality has here an intermediary 
sense between those of unwinding and releasing. 
Such, indeed, seems to be Eimer’s own meaning when 
he speaks of the ‘“kaleidoscopic’’ character of the 
variation,’ or when he says that the variation of 
organized matter works in a definite way, just as 
inorganic matter crystallizes in definite directions.’ 
And it may be granted, perhaps, that the process is 
a merely physical and chemical one in the case of 
the colour-changes of the skin. But if this sort of 
explanation is extended to the case of the gradual 
formation of the eye of the vertebrate, for instance, it 
must be supposed that the physico-chemistry of living 
bodies is such that the influence of light has caused the 
organism to construct a progressive series of visual 
apparatus, all extremely complex, yet all capable of 
seeing, and of seeing better and better. What more 
could the most confirmed finalist say, in order to mark 
out so exceptional a physico-chemistry ? And will not 
the position of a mechanistic philosophy become still 
more difficult, when it is pointed out to it that the 
ego of a mollusc cannot have the same chemical com- 
position as that of a vertebrate, that the organic sub- 
stance which evolved toward the first of these two 

1 Eimer, Orthogenesis der Schmetterlinge, Leipzig, 1897, p. 24. Cf. Die 
Entstehung der Arten, p. 53. 

2 Eimer, Die Entstehung der Arten, Jena, 1888, p. 25. 

3 Ibid. pp. 165 ff. 


forms could not have been chemically identical with 
that of the substance which went in the other direction, 
and that, nevertheless, under the influence of light, the 
same organ has been constructed in the one case as in 
the other ? 

The more we reflect upon it, the more we shall 
see that this production of the same effect by two 
different accumulations of an enormous number of 
small causes is contrary to the principles of mechan- 
istic philosophy. We have concentrated the full force 
of our discussion upon an example drawn from phylo- 
genesis. But ontogenesis would have furnished us 
with facts no less cogent. Every moment, right before 
our eyes, nature arrives at identical results, in some- 
times neighbouring species, by entirely different em- 
bryogenic processes. Observations of “ heteroblastia ” 
have multiplied in late years,’ and it has been necessary 
to reject the almost classical theory of the specificity 
of embryonic gills. Still keeping to our comparison 
between the eye of vertebrates and that of molluscs, 
we may point out that the retina of the vertebrate is 
produced by an expansion in the rudimentary brain of 
the young embryo. It is a regular nervous centre which 
has moved toward the periphery. In the mollusc, on the 
contrary, the retina is derived from the ectoderm directly, 
and not indirectly by means of the embryonic encephalon. 
Quite different, therefore, are the evolutionary processes 
which lead, in man and in the Pecten, to the develop- 
ment of a like retina. But, without going so far as to 
compare two organisms so distant from each other, we 

1 Salensky, ‘“‘Heteroblastie” (Proc. of the Fourth International Congress of 
Zoology, London, 1899, pp. 111-118). Salensky has coined this word to 
designate the cases in which organs that are equivalent, but of different 
embryological origin, are formed at the same points in animals related to 

each other. 


might reach the same conclusion simply by looking at 
certain very curious facts of regeneration in one and 
the same organism. If the crystalline lens of a Triton 
be removed, it is regenerated by the iris." Now, the 
original lens was built out of the ectoderm, while the 
iris is of mesodermic origin. What is more, in the 
Salamandra maculata, if the lens be removed and the 
iris left, the regeneration of the lens takes place at 
the upper part of the iris; but if this upper part 
of the iris itself be taken away, the regeneration takes 
place in the inner or retinal layer of the remaining 
region.” Thus, parts differently situated, differently 
constituted, meant normally for different functions, are 
capable of performing the same duties and even of 
manufacturing, when necessary, the same pieces of the 
machine. Here we have, indeed, the same effect 
obtained by different combinations of causes. 

Whether we will or no, we must appeal to some inner 
directing principle in order to account for this convergence 
of effects. Such convergence does not appear possible in 
the Darwinian, and especially the neo-Darwinian, theory 
of insensible accidental variations, nor in the hypothesis 
of sudden accidental variations, nor even in the theory 
that assigns definite directions to the evolution of the 
various organs by a kind of mechanical composition of 
the external with the internal forces. So we come to 
the only one of the present forms of evolution which 
remains for us to mention, viz., neo-Lamarckism. 

It is well known that Lamarck attributed to the 
living being the power of varying by use or disuse of 
1 Wolff, “Die Regeneration der Urodelenlinse” (Arch. fi Entwwickelungs- 
mechanik, i., 1895, pp. 380 ff.). 
2 Fischel, “Uber die Regeneration der Linse” (Anat. Anzeiger, xiv., 1898, 
PP: 373-380). 


its organs, and also of passing on the variation so 
acquired to its descendants. A certain number of 
biologists hold a doctrine of this kind to-day. The 
variation that results in a new species is not, they 
believe, merely an accidental variation inherent in the 
germ itself, nor is it governed by a determinism su 
generis which develops definite characters in a definite 
direction, apart from every consideration of utility. It 
springs from the very effort of the living being to adapt 
itself to the circumstances of its existence. The effort 
may indeed be only the mechanical exercise of certain 
organs, mechanically elicited by the pressure of external 

circumstances. But it may also imply consciousness ~ 

and will, and it is in this sense that it appears to be 
understood by one of the most eminent representatives 
of the doctrine, the American naturalist Cope.’ Neo- 
Lamarckism is therefore, of all the later forms of 
evolutionism, the only one capable of admitting an 
internal and psychological principle of development, 
although it is not bound to do so. And it is also 
the only evolutionism that seems to us to account for 
the building up of identical complex organs on in- 
dependent lines of development. For it is quite 
conceivable that the same effort to turn the same 
circumstances to good account might have the same 
result, especially if the problem put by the circum- 
stances is such as to admit of only one solution. But 
the question remains, whether the term “ effort’’ must 
not then be taken in a deeper sense, a sense even more 
psychological than any neo-Lamarckian supposes. 

For a mere variation of size is one thing, and a 
change of form is another. That an organ can be 

1 Cope, The Origin of the Fittest, 1887 ; The Primary Factors of Organic 
Evolution, 1896 



strengthened and grow by exercise, nobody will deny. 
But it is a long way from that to the progressive de- 
velopment of an eye like that of the molluscs and of 
the vertebrates. If this development be ascribed to 
the influence of light, long continued but passively 
received, we fall back on the theory we have just 
criticized. If, on the other hand, an internal activity 1s 
appealed to, then it must be something quite different 
from what we usually call an effort, for never has an 
effort been known to produce the slightest complication 
of an organ, and yet an enormous number of complica- 
tions, all admirably codrdinated, have been necessary 
to pass from the pigment-spot of the Infusorian to the 
eye of the vertebrate. But, even if we accept this 
notion of the evolutionary process in the case of 
animals, how can we apply it to plants? Here, 
variations of form do not seem to imply, nor always 
to lead to, functional changes ; and even if the cause 
of the variation is of a psychological nature, we can 
hardly call it an effort, unless we give a very unusual 
extension to the meaning of the word. The truth is, 
it is necessary to dig beneath the effort itself and look 
for a deeper cause. 

This is especially necessary, we believe, if we wish to 
get at a cause of regular hereditary variations. We are 
not going to enter here into the controversies over the 
transmissibility of acquired characters ; still less do we 
wish to take too definite a side on this question, which 1s 
not within our province. But we cannot remain com- 
pletely indifferent to it. Nowhere is it clearer that 
philosophers cannot to-day content themselves with 
vague generalities, but must follow the scientists in 
experimental detail and discuss the results with them. 
If Spencer had begun by putting to himself the question 


of the hereditability of acquired characters, his evolu- 
tionism would no doubt have taken an altogether 
different form. If (as seems probable to us) a habit 
contracted by the individual were transmitted to its 
descendants only in very exceptional cases, all the 
Spencerian psychology would need re-making, and a 
large part of Spencer’s philosophy would fall to pieces. 
Let us say, then, how the problem seems to us to 
present itself, and in what direction an attempt might 
be made to solve it. 

After having been affirmed as a dogma, the trans- 
missibility of acquired characters has been no less 
dogmatically denied, for reasons drawn a priori from the 
supposed nature of germinal cells. It is well known 
how Weismann was led, by his hypothesis of the 
continuity of the germ-plasm, to regard the germinal 
cells—ova and spermatozoa—as almost independent 
of the somatic cells. Starting from this, it has been 
claimed, and is still claimed by many, that the heredi- 
tary transmission of an acquired character is incon- 
ceivable. But if, perchance, experiment should show 
that acquired characters are transmissible, it would 
prove thereby that the germ-plasm is not so inde- 
pendent of the somatic envelope as has been contended, 
and the transmissibility of acquired characters would 
become ipso facto conceivable ; which amounts to 
saying that conceivability and inconceivability have 
nothing to do with the case, and that experience alone 
must settle the matter. But it is just here that the 
difficulty begins. The acquired characters we are speak- 
ing of are generally habits or the effects of habit, and at 
the root of most habits there is a natural disposition. 
So that one can always ask whether it is really the habit 
acquired by the soma of the individual that is trans- 


mitted, or whether it is not rather a natural aptitude, 
which existed prior to the habit. This aptitude would 
have remained inherent in the germ-plasm which the 
individual bears within him, as it was in the individual 
himself and consequently in the germ whence he 
sprang. Thus, for instance, there is no proof that 
the mole has become blind because it has formed the 
habit of living underground ; it is perhaps because 
its eyes were becoming atrophied that it condemned 
itself to a life underground.’ If this is the case, 
the tendency to lose the power of vision has been 
transmitted from germ to germ without anything 
being acquired or lost by the soma of the mole itself. 
From the fact that the son of a fencing-master has 
become a good fencer much more quickly than his 
father, we cannot infer that the habit of the parent has 
been transmitted to the child ; for certain natural dis- 
positions in course of growth may have passed from the 
plasma engendering the father to the plasma engender- 
ing the son, may have grown on the way by the effect 
of the primitive impetus, and thus assured to the son a 
greater suppleness than the father had, without troubling, 
so to speak, about what the father did. So of many 
examples drawn from the progressive domestication of 
animals : it is hard to say whether it 1s the acquired habit 
that 1s transmitted or only a certain natural tendency— 
that, indeed, which has caused such and such a particular 
species or certain of its representatives to be specially 
chosen for domestication. The truth is, when every 
doubtful case, every fact open to more than one inter- 
pretation, has been eliminated, there remains hardly a 

1 Cuénot, “La Nouvelle Théorie transformiste” (Revue générale des 
sciences, 1894). Cf. Morgan, Evolution and ‘Adaptation, London, 1903, 
P- 357- 


single unquestionable example of acquired and trans- 
mitted peculiarities, beyond the famous experiments 
of Brown-Séquard, repeated and confirmed by other 
physiologists.» By cutting the spinal cord or the 
sciatic nerve of guinea-pigs, Brown-Séquard brought 
about an epileptic state which was transmitted to the 
descendants. Lesions of the same sciatic nerve, of the 
restiform body, etc., provoked various troubles in the 
guinea-pig which its progeny inherited sometimes in a 
quite different form: exophthalmia, loss of toes, etc. 
But it is not demonstrated that in these different cases of 
hereditary transmission there had been a real influence of 
the soma of the animal on its germ-plasm. Weismann 
at once objected that the operations of Brown-Séquard 
might have introduced certain special microbes into the 
body of the guinea-pig, which had found their means 
of nutrition in the nervous tissues and transmitted 
the malady by penetrating into the sexual elements.’ 
This objection has been answered by Brown-Séquard 
himself ;* but a more plausible one might be raised. 
Some experiments of Voisin and Peron have shown 
that fits of epilepsy are followed by the elimination 
of a toxic body which, when injected into animals,‘ is 
capable of producing convulsive symptoms. Perhaps 
the trophic disorders following the nerve lesions 
made by Brown-Séquard correspond to the formation 

1 Brown-Séquard, “ Nouvelles Recherches sur I’épilepsie due 4 certaines 
lésions de la moelle épiniére et des nerfs rachidiens ” (Arch. de physiologie, vol. 
li., 1866, pp. 211, 422, and 497). 

2 Weismann, Aufsdtze iiber Vererbung, Jena, 1892, pp. 376-378, and also 
Vortrage iiber Descendenxtheorie, Jena, 1902, vol. ii. p. 76. 

3 Brown-Séquard, “Heérédité d’une affection due a une cause acci- 
dentelle” (Arch. de physiologie, 1892, pp. 686 ff.). 

4 Voisin and Peron, “Recherches sur la toxicité urinaire chez les 
épileptiques ” (Arch. de neurologie, vol. xxiv., 1892, and xxv. 1893. 
Cf. the work of Voisin, L’Epilepsie, Paris, 1897, Pp- 125-133). 


of precisely this convulsion-causing poison. If so, the 
toxin passed from the guinea-pig to its spermatozoon 
or ovum, and caused in the development of the 
embryo a general disturbance, which, however, had 
no visible effects except at one point or another of 
the organism when developed. In that case, what 
occurred would have been somewhat the same as in 
the experiments of Charrin, Delamare, and Moussu, 
where guinea-pigs in gestation, whose liver or kidney 
was injured, transmitted the lesion to their progeny, 
simply because the injury to the mother’s organ had 
given rise to specific “‘cytotoxins ”’ which acted on the 
corresponding organ of the foetus.’ It is true that, in 
these experiments, as in a former observation of the 
same physiologists,’ it was the already formed foetus 
that was influenced by the toxins. But other researches 
of Charrin have resulted in showing that the same 
effect may be produced, by an analogous process, on 
the spermatozoa and the ova.* To conclude, then: 
the inheritance of an acquired peculiarity in the ex- 
periments of Brown-Séquard can be explained by the 
effect of a toxin on the germ. The lesion, however 
well localised it seems, is transmitted by the same 
process as, for instance, the taint of alcoholism. But 
may it not be the same in the case of every acquired 
peculiarity that has become hereditary ? 

There is, indeed, one point on which both those 
who affirm and those who deny the transmissibility of 

1 Charrin, Delamare and Moussu, “Transmission expérimentale aux 
descendants de lésions développées chez les ascendants” (C.R. de I’ Acad. des 
Sciences, vol. cxxxv., 1902, p. 191). Cf. Morgan, Evolution and Adaptation, 
p- 257, and Delage, L’Hérédité, 2nd edition, p. 388. 

2 Charrin and Delamare, “Hérédité cellulaire” (C.R. de l’Acad. des 
Sciences, vol. cxxxili., 1901, pp. 69-71). 

§ Charrin, “L’Hérédité pathologique” (Revue générale des sciences, 15 
janvier 1896). 


acquired characters are agreed, namely, that certain in- 
fluences, such as that of alcohol, can affect at the same 
time both the living being and the germ-plasm it con- 
tains. In such case, there is inheritance of a defect, 
and the result is as if the soma of the parent had acted 
on the germ-plasm, although in reality soma and plasma 
have simply both suffered the action of the same cause. 
Now, suppose that the soma can influence the germ- 
plasm, as those believe who hold that acquired characters 
are transmissible. Is not the most natural hypothesis 
to suppose that things happen in this second case as in 
the first, and that the direct effect of the influence of 
the soma is a general alteration of the germ-plasm? 
If this is the case, it is by exception, and in some sort 
by accident, that the modification of the descendant 
is the same as that of the parent. It is like the 
hereditability of the alcoholic taint: it passes from 
father to children, but it may take a different form 
in each child, and in none of them be like what 
se -was: in. the father. Let the letter’ C. represent 
the change in the plasm, C being either positive 
or negative, that is to say, showing either the gain 
or loss of certain substances. The effect will not 
be an exact reproduction of the cause, nor will the 
change in the germ-plasm, provoked by a certain 
modification of a certain part of the soma, determine 
a similar modification of the corresponding part of the 
new organism in process of formation, unless all the 

other nascent parts of this organism enjoy a kind of 

immunity as regards C: the same part will then 
undergo alteration in the new organism, because it 
happens that the development of this part is alone 
subject to the new influence. And, even then, the 
part might be altered in an entirely different way 


from that in which the corresponding part was altered 
in the generating organism. 

We should propose, then, to introduce a distinction 
between the hereditability of deviation and that of char- 
acter. An individual which acquires a new character 
thereby deviates from the form it previously had, which 
form the germs, or oftener the half-germs, it contains 
would have reproduced in their development. If this 
modification does not involve the production of sub- 
stances capable of changing the germ-plasm, or does not 
so affect nutrition as to deprive the germ-plasm of certain 
of its elements, it will have no effect on the offspring 
of the individual. This is probably the case as a rule. 
If, on the contrary, it has some effect, this is likely to 
be due to a chemical change which it has induced in 
the germ-plasm. This chemical change might, by ex- 
ception, bring about the original modification again in the 
organism which the germ is about to develop, but there 
are as many and more chances that it will do something 
else. In this latter case, the generated organism will 
perhaps deviate from the normal type as much as the 
generating organism, but it will do so differently. It 
will have inherited deviation and not character. In 
general, therefore, the habits formed by an individual 
have probably no echo in its offspring ; and when 
they have, the modification in the descendants may have 
no visible likeness to the original one. Such, at least, 
is the hypothesis which seems to us most likely. In 
any case, in default of proof to the contrary, and so 
long as the decisive experiments called for by an 
eminent biologist’ have not been made, we must keep 
to the actual results of observation. Now, even if we 
_take the most favourable view of the theory of the trans- 

1 Giard, Controverses transformistes, Paris, 1904, p. 147 


missibility of acquired characters, and assume that the 
ostensible acquired character is not, in most cases, the 
more or less tardy development of an innate character, 
facts show us that hereditary transmission is the excep- 
‘tion and not the rule. How, then, shall we expect 
it to develop an organ such as the eye? When we 
think of the enormous number of variations, all in 
the same direction, that we must suppose to be 
accumulated before the passage from the pigment- 
spot of the Infusorian to the eye of the moliusc and of 
the vertebrate is possible, we do not see how heredity, 
as we observe it, could ever have determined this 
piling-up of differences, even supposing that individual 
efforts could have produced each of them singly. 
That is to say that neo-Lamarckism is no more able 
than any other form of evolutionism to solve the 

In thus submitting the various present forms of 
evolutionism to a common test, in showing that they 
all strike against the same insurmountable difficulty, 
we have in no wise the intention of rejecting them 
altogether. On the contrary, each of them, being 
supported by a considerable number of facts, must be 
true in its way. Each of them must correspond to 
a certain aspect of the process of evolution. Perhaps 
even it is necessary that a theory should restrict it- 
self exclusively to a particular point of view, in order 
to remain scientific, Ze. to give a precise direction 
to researches into detail. But the reality of which 
each of these theories takes a partial view must trans- 
cend them all. And this reality is the special object 
of philosophy, which is not constrained to scientific pre- 
cision because it contemplates no practical application. 


Let us therefore indicate in a word or two the posi- 
tive contribution that each of the three present forms 
of evolutionism seems to us to make toward the 
solution of the problem, what each of them leaves out, 
and on what point this threefold effort should, in our 
opinion, converge in order to obtain a more compre- 
hensive, although thereby of necessity a less definite, 
idea of the evolutionary process. 

The neo-Darwinians are probably right, we believe, 
when they teach that the essential causes of variation 
are the differences inherent in the germ borne by the 
individual, and not the experiences or behaviour of 
the individual in the course of his career. Where we 
fail to follow these biologists, is in regarding the 
differences inherent in the germ as purely accidental 
and individual. We cannot help believing that these 
differences are the development of an impulsion which 
passes from germ to germ across the individuals, that 
they are therefore not pure accidents, and that they 
might well appear at the same time, in the same form, 
in all the representatives of the same species, or at least 
in a certain number of them. Already, in fact, the 
theory of mutations is modifying Darwinism profoundly 
on this point. It asserts that at a given moment, after 
a long period, the entire species is beset with a tendency 
to change. The tendency to change, therefore, is not 
accidental. True, the change itself would be accidental, 
since the mutation works, according to De Vries, in 
different directions in the different representatives of 
the species. But, first we must see if the theory is 
confirmed by many other vegetable species (De Vries 
has verified it only by the Oenothera Lamarckiana),' 

1 Some analogous facts, however, have been noted, all in the vegetable 
world. See Blaringhem, “La Notion d’espéce et la théorie de la mutation ” 


and then there is the possibility, as we shall explain 
further on, that the part played by chance is much 
greater in the variation of plants than in that of 
animals, because, in the vegetable world, function 
does not depend so strictly on form. Be that as it 
may, the neo-Darwinians are inclined to admit that the 
periods of mutation are determinate. The direction 
of the mutation may therefore be so as well, at least in 
animals, and to the extent we shall have to indicate. 

We thus arrive at a hypothesis like Eimer’s, 
according to which the variations of different characters 
continue from generation to generation in definite 
directions. This hypothesis seems plausible to us, 
within the limits in which Eimer himself retains it. 
Of course, the evolution of the organic world cannot 
be predetermined as a whole. We claim, on the 
contrary, that the spontaneity of life is manifested by 
a continual creation of new forms succeeding others. 
But this indetermination cannot be complete ; it must 
leave a certain part to determination. An organ like 
the eye, for example, must have been formed by 
just a continual changing in a definite direction. 
Indeed, we do not see how otherwise to explain the 
likeness of structure of the eye in species that have 
not the same history. Where we differ from Eimer 
is in his claim that combinations of physical and 
chemical causes are enough to secure the result. We 
have tried to prove, on the contrary, by the example of 
the eye, that if there is “ orthogenesis”” here, a psycho- 
logical cause intervenes. 

Certain neo-Lamarckians do indeed resort to a 
cause of a psychological nature. There, to our think- 

(Année psychologique, vol. xii.. 1906, pp. 95 ff.), and De Vries, Species and 
Varieties, p. 655. 


ing, is one of the most solid positions of neo-Lamarck- 
ism. But if this cause is nothing but the conscious 
effort of the individual, it cannot operate in more than 
a restricted number of cases—at most in the animal 
world, and not at all in the vegetable kingdom. 
Even in animals, it will act only on points which are 
under the direct or indirect control of the will. And 
even where it does act, it is not clear how it could 
compass a change so profound as an increase of com- 
plexity: at most this would be conceivable if the 
acquired characters were regularly transmitted so as 
to be added together ; but this transmission seems to 
be the exception rather than the rule. A hereditary 
change in a definite direction, which continues to 
accumulate and add to itself so as to build up a 
more and more complex machine, must certainly be 
related to some sort of effort, but to an effort of far 
greater depth than the individual effort, far more 
independent of circumstances, an effort common to 
most representatives of the same species, inherent in 
the germs they bear rather than in their substance 
alone, an effort thereby assured of being passed on to 
their descendants. 

So we come back, by a somewhat roundabout way, 
to the idea we started from, that of an original impetus 
of life, passing from one generation of germs to the 
following generation of germs through the developed 
organisms which bridge the interval between the genera- 
tions. [his impetus, sustained right along the lines 
of evolution among which it gets divided, is the 
fundamental cause of variations, at least of those that 
are regularly passed on, that accumulate and create 
new species. In general, when species have begun to 


diverge from a common stock, they accentuate their 
divergence as they progress in their evolution. Yet, in 
certain definite points, they may evolve identically ; in 
fact, they must do so if the hypothesis of a common 
impetus be accepted. This is just what we shall have 
to show now in a more precise way, by the same 
example we have chosen, the formation of the eye in 
molluscs and vertebrates. The idea of an “original 
impetus,’ moreover, will thus be made clearer. 

Two points are equally striking in an organ like the 
eye: the complexity of its structure and the simplicity 
of its function. The eye is composed of distinct parts, 
such as the sclerotic, the cornea, the retina, the crystalline 
lens, etc. In each of these parts the detail is infinite. 
The retina alone comprises three layers of nervous 
elements—multipolar cells, bipolar cells, visual cells— 
each of which has its individuality and is undoubtedly 
a very complicated organism: so complicated, indeed, 
is the retinal membrane in its intimate structure, that 
no simple description can give an adequate idea of it. 
The mechanism of the eye is, in short, composed of 
an infinity of mechanisms, all of extreme complexity. 
Yet vision is one simple fact. As soon as the eye 
opens, the visual act is effected. Just because the act is 
simple, the slightest negligence on the part of nature in 
the building of the infinitely complex machine would 
have made vision impossible. This contrast between 
the complexity of the organ and the unity of the 
function is what gives us pause. 

A mechanistic theory is one which means to show 
us the gradual building-up of the machine under the 
influence of external circumstances intervening either 
directly by action on the tissues or indirectly by the 
selection of better-adapted ones. But, whatever form 


this theory may take, supposing it avails at all to 
explain the detail of the parts, it throws no light on 
their correlation. | 

Then comes the doctrine of finality, which says that 
the parts have been brought together on a preconceived 
plan with a view to a certain end. In this it likens the 
labour of nature to that of the workman, who also 
proceeds by the assemblage of parts with a view to the 
realization of an idea or the imitation of a model. 
Mechanism, here, reproaches finalism with its anthropo- 
morphic character, and rightly. But it fails to see that 
itself proceeds according to this method—somewhat 
mutilated! True, it has got rid of the end pursued 
or the ideal model. But it also holds that nature has 
worked like a human being by bringing parts together, 
while a mere glance at the development of an embryo 
shows that life goes to work in a very different way. 
Life does not proceed by the association and addition of 
elements, but by dissociation and division. 

We must get beyond both points of view, both 
mechanism and finalism being, at bottom, only stand- 
points to which the human mind has been led by 
considering the work of man. But in what direction 
can we go beyond them? We have said that in 
analysing the structure of an organ, we can go on 
decomposing for ever, although the function of the 
whole is a simple thing. This contrast between the 
infinite complexity of the organ and the extreme 
simplicity of the function is what should open our eyes. 

In general, when the same object appears in one 
aspect as simple and in another as infinitely complex, 
the two aspects have by no means the same importance, 
or rather the same degree of reality. In such cases, the 
simplicity belongs to the object itself, and the infinite 


complexity to the views we take in turning around it, 
to the symbols by which our senses or intellect repre- 
sent it to us, or, more generally, to elements of a 
different order, with which we try to imitate it arti- 
ficially, but with which it remains incommensurable, 
being of a different nature. An artist of genius has 
painted a figure on his canvas. We can imitate his 
picture with many-coloured squares of mosaic. And 
we shall reproduce the curves and shades of the model 
so much the better as our squares are smaller, more 
numerous and more varied in tone. But an infinity of 
elements infinitely small, presenting an infinity of shades, 
would be necessary to obtain the exact equivalent of the 
figure that the artist has conceived as a simple thing, 
which he has wished to transport as a whole to the 
canvas, and which is the more complete the more it 
strikes us as the projection of an indivisible intuition. 
Now, suppose our eyes so made that they cannot help 
seeing in the work of the master a mosaic effect. Or 
suppose our intellect so made that it cannot explain the 
appearance of the figure on the canvas except as a work 
of mosaic. We should then be able to speak simply 
of a collection of little squares, and we should be 
under the mechanistic hypothesis. We might add 
that, beside the materiality of the collection, there must 
be a plan on which the artist worked ; and then we 
should be expressing ourselves as finalists. But in 
neither case should we have got at the real process, 
for there are no squares brought together. It is the 
picture, i.e. the simple act, projected on the canvas, 
which, by the mere fact of entering into our per- 
ception, is decomposed before our eyes into thousands 
and thousands of little squares which present, as 
recomposed, a wonderful arrangement. So the eye, 


with its marvellous complexity of structure, may be 
only the simple act of vision, divided for us into a 
mosaic of cells, whose order seems marvellous to us 
because we have conceived the whole as an assemblage. 

If I raise my hand from A to B, this movement 
appears to me under two aspects at once. Felt from 
within, it is a simple, indivisible act. Perceived from 
without, it is the course of a certain curve, AB. In 
this curve I can distinguish as many positions as I 
please, and the line itself might be defined as a certain 
mutual codrdination of these positions. But the posi- 
tions, infinite in number, and the order in which they 
are connected, have sprung automatically from the 
indivisible act by which my hand has gone from A to 
B. Mechanism, here, would consist in seeing only the 
positions. Finalism would take their order into account. 
But both mechanism and finalism would leave on one 
side the movement, which is reality itself. In one 
sense, the movement is more than the positions and 
than their order ; for it is sufficient to make it in its 
indivisible simplicity to secure that the infinity of the 
successive positions as also their order be given at once 
—with something else which is neither order nor 
position but which is essential, the mobility. But, 
in another sense, the movement is /ess than the series 
of positions and their connecting order ; for, to arrange 
points in a certain order, it is necessary first to conceive 
the order and then to realize it with points, there must 
be the work of assemblage and there must be intelligence, 
whereas the simple movement of the hand contains 
nothing of either. It is not intelligent, in the human 
sense of the word, and it is not an assemblage, for it is 
not made up of elements. Just so with the relation of 
the eye to vision. There is in vision more than the 


component cells of the eye and their mutual co- 
Ordination: in this sense, neither mechanism nor 
finalism go far enough. But, in another sense, 
mechanism and finalism both go too far, for they 
attribute to Nature the most formidable of the labours of 
Hercules in holding that she has exalted to the simple 
act of vision an infinity of infinitely complex elements, 
whereas Nature has had no more trouble in making an 
eye than I have in lifting my hand. Nature’s simple 
act has divided itself automatically into an infinity of 
elements which are then found to be codrdinated to 
one idea, just as the movement of my hand has dropped 
an infinity of points which are then found to satisfy 
one equation. 

We find it very hard to see things in that light, 
because we cannot help conceiving organization as 
manufacturing. But it is one thing to manufacture, 
and quite another to organize. Manufacturing is 
peculiar to man. It consists in assembling parts of 
matter which we have cut out in such manner that we 
can fit them together and obtain from them a common 
action. The parts are arranged, so to speak, around 
the action as an ideal centre. ‘To manufacture, there- 
fore, is to work from the periphery to the centre, or, 
as the philosophers say, from the many to the one. 
Organization, on the contrary, works from the centre 
to the periphery. It begins in a point that is almost 
a mathematical point, and spreads around this point by 
concentric waves which go on enlarging. The work of 
manufacturing is the more effective, the greater the 
quantity of matter dealt with. It proceeds by concen- 
tration and compression. The organizing act, on the 
contrary, has something explosive about it: it needs at 

the beginning the smallest possible place, a minimum 


of matter, as if the organizing forces only entered space 
reluctantly. The spermatozoon, which sets 1n motion 
the evolutionary process of the embryonic life, is one 
of the smallest cells of the organism ; and it is only a 
small part of the spermatozoon which really takes part 
in the operation. 

But these are only superficial differences. Digging 
beneath them, we think, a deeper difference would be 

A manufactured thing delineates exactly the form of 
the work of manufacturing it. I mean that the manu- 
facturer finds in his product exactly what he has put 
into it. If he is going to make a machine, he cuts out 
its pieces one by one and then puts them together : 
the machine, when made, will show both the pieces and 
their assemblage. The whole of the result represents 
the whole of the work ; and to each part of the work 
corresponds a part of the result. 

Now I recognise that positive science can and should 
proceed as if organization was like making a machine. 
Only so will it have any hold on organized bodies. For 
its object is not to show us the essence of things, but 
to furnish us with the best means of acting on them. 
Physics and chemistry are well advanced sciences, 
and living matter lends itself to our action only so far 
as we can treat it by the processes of our physics and 
chemistry. Organization can therefore only be studied 
scientifically if the organized body has first been 
likened to a machine. The cells will be the pieces of 
the machine, the organism their assemblage, and the 
elementary labours which have organized the parts will 
be regarded as the real elements of the labour which has 
organized the whole. This is the standpoint of science. 
Quite different, in our opinion, is that of philosophy. 


For us, the whole of an organized machine may, 
strictly speaking, represent the whole of the organizing 
work (this is, however, only approximately true), yet 
the parts of the machine do not correspond to parts of 
the work, because the materiality of this machine does not 
represent a sum of means employed, but a sum of obstacles 
avoided: it is a negation rather than a positive reality. 
So, as we have shown in a former study, vision is a 
power which should attain dy right an infinity of things 
inaccessible to our eyes. But such a vision would not 
be continued into action; it might suit a phantom, but 
not a living being. The vision of a living being is an 
effective vision, limited to objects on which the being 
can act: it is a vision that 1s canalized, and the visual 
apparatus simply symbolizes the work of canalizing. 
Therefore the creation of the visual apparatus is no 
more explained by the assembling of its anatomic 
elements than the digging of a canal could be ex- 
plained by the heaping-up of the earth which might 
have formed its banks. A mechanistic theory would 
maintain that the earth had been brought cart-load by 
cart-load ; finalism would add that it had not been 
dumped down at random, that the carters had followed 
a plan. But both theories would be mistaken, for the 
canal has been made in another way. 

With greater precision, we may compare the process 
by which nature constructs an eye to the simple act by 
which we raise the hand. But we supposed at first that 
the hand met with no resistance. Let us now imagine 
that, instead of moving in air, the hand has to pass 
through iron filings which are compressed and offer 
resistance to it in proportion as it goes forward. At a 
certain moment the hand will have exhausted its effort, 
and, at this very moment, the filings will be massed and 


codrdinated in a certain definite form, to wit, that of the 
hand that is stopped and of a part of the arm. Now, 
suppose that the hand and arm are invisible. Lookers- 
on will seek the reason of the arrangement in the filings 
themselves and in forces within the mass. Some will 
account for the position of each filing by the action 
exerted upon it by the neighbouring filings : these are 
the mechanists. Others will prefer to think that a plan 
of the whole has presided over the detail of these ele- 
mentary actions: they are the finalists. But the truth 
is that there has been merely one indivisible act, that of 
the hand passing through the filings : the inexhaustible 
detail of the movement of the grains, as well as the order 
of their final arrangement, expresses negatively, in a way, 
this undivided movement, being the unitary form of a 
resistance, and not a synthesis of positive elementary 
actions. For this reason, if the arrangement of the 
grains is termed an “ effect’’ and the movement of the 
hand a “‘cause,”’ it may indeed be said that the whole 
of the effect is explained by the whole of the cause, but 
to parts of the cause parts of the effect will in no wise 
correspond. In other words, neither mechanism nor 
finalism will here be in place, and we must resort to an 
explanation of a different kind. Now, in the hypothesis 
we propose, the relation of vision to the visual appar- 
atus would be very nearly that of the hand to the iron 
filings that follow, canalize and limit its motion. 

The greater the effort of the hand, the farther it will 
go into the filings. But at whatever point it stops, 
instantaneously and automatically the filings codrdinate 
and find their equilibrium. So with vision and its 
organ. According as the undivided act constituting 
vision advances more or less, the materiality of the 
organ is made of a more or less considerable number of 

1 Vee VI CAL IMP EOS 101 

mutually codrdinated elements, but the order is 
necessarily complete and perfect. It could not ke 
partial, because, once again, the real process which gives 
rise to it has no parts. That is what neither mechanism 
nor finalism takes into account, and it is what we also 
fail to consider when we wonder at the marvellous 
structure of an instrument such as the eye. At the 
bottom of our wondering is always this idea, that it 
would have been possible for @ part only of this co- 
ordination to have been realized, that the complete 
realization is a kind of special favour. This favour the 
finalists consider as dispensed to them all at once, by the 
final cause ; the mechanists claim to obtain it little by 
little, by the effect of natural selection ; but both see 
something positive in this codrdination, and conse- 
quently something fractionable in its cause,—something 
which admits of every possible degree of achievement. In 
reality, the cause, though more or less intense, cannot 
produce its effect except in one piece, and completely 
finished. According as it goes further and further in 
the direction of vision, it gives the simple pigmentary 
masses of a lower organism, or the rudimentary eye 
of a Serpula, or the slightly differentiated eye of the 
Alciope, or the marvellously perfected eye of the bird ; 
but all these organs, unequal as is their complexity, 
necessarily present an equal codrdination. For this 
reason, no matter how distant two animal species may 
be from each other, if the progress toward vision has 
gone equally far in both, there is the same visual organ 
in each case, for the form of the organ only expresses 
the degree in which the exercise of the function has 
been obtained. 

But, in speaking of a progress toward vision, are we 
not coming back to the old notion of finality? It 


would be so, undoubtedly, if this progress required the 
conscious or unconscious idea of an end to be attained. 
But it is really effected in virtue of the original impetus 
of life ; it is implied in this movement itself, and that 
is just why it is found in independent lines of evolu- 
tion. If now we are asked why and how it is implied 
therein, we reply that life is, more than anything 
else, a tendency to act on inert matter. The direc- 
tion of this action is not predetermined ; hence the 
unforeseeable variety of forms which life, in evolving, 
sows along its path. But this action always presents, 
to some extent, the character of contingency ; it implies 
at least a rudiment of choice. Now a choice involves 
the anticipatory idea of several possible actions. 
Possibilities of action must therefore be marked out 
for the living being before the action itself. Visual 
perception is nothing else:’ the visible outlines of 
bodies are the design of our eventual action on them. 
Vision will be found, therefore, in different degrees in 
the most diverse animals, and it will appear in the 
same complexity of structure wherever it has reached 
the same degree of intensity. 

We have dwelt on these resemblances of structure 
in general, and on the example of the eye in particular, 
because we had to define our attitude toward mechanism 
on the one hand and finalism on the other. It remains 
for us to describe it more precisely in itself. This we 
shall now do by showing the divergent results of 
evolution not as presenting analogies, but as them- 
selves mutually complementary. 

& See, on this subject, Matiére et mémotre, chap. i. 



Tue evolution movement would be a simple one, and 
we should soon have been able to determine its direc- 
tion, if life had described a single course, like that of a 
solid ball shot from a cannon. But it proceeds rather 
like a shell, which suddenly bursts into fragments, 
which fragments, being themselves shells, burst in their 
turn into fragments destined to burst again, and so on 
for a time incommensurably long. We perceive only 
what is nearest to us, namely, the scattered move- 
ments of the pulverized explosions. From them we 
have to go back, stage by stage, to the original 

When a shell! bursts, the particular way it breaks is 
explained both by the explosive force of the powder 
it contains and by the resistance of the metal. So of 
the way life breaks into individuals and species. It 
depends, we think, on two series of causes: the 
resistance life meets from inert matter, and the explosive 
force—due to an unstable balance of tendencies— 
which life bears within itself. 

The resistance of inert matter was the obstacle that 
had first to be overcome. Life seems to have succeeded 
in this by dint of humility, by making itself very small 



and very insinuating, bending to physical and chemical 
forces, consenting even to go a part of the way with 
them, like the switch that adopts for a while the direc- 
tion of the rail it is endeavouring to leave. Of phe- 
nomena in the simplest forms of life, it is hard to say 
whether they are still physical and chemical or whether 
they are already vital. Life had to enter thus into the 
habits of inert matter, in order to draw it little by 
little, magnetized, as it were, to another track. The 
animate forms that first appeared were therefore of 
extreme simplicity. They were probably tiny masses of 
scarcely differentiated protoplasm, outwardly resembling 
the amoeba observable to-day, but possessed of the 
tremendous internal push that was to raise them even 
to the highest forms of life. That in virtue of this 
push the first organisms sought to grow as much as 
possible, seems likely. But organized matter has a 
limit of expansion that is very quickly reached ; beyond 
a certain point it divides instead of growing. Ages of 
effort and prodigies of subtlety were probably necessary 
for life to get past this new obstacle. It succeeded in 
inducing an increasing number of elements, ready to 
divide, to remain united. By the division of labour it 
knotted between them an indissoluble bond. The 
complex and quasi-discontinuous organism is thus 
made to function as would a continuous living mass 
which had simply grown bigger. 

But the real and profound causes of division were 
those which life bore within its bosom. For life is 
tendency, and the essence of a tendency is to develop 
in the form of a sheaf, creating, by its very growth, 
divergent directions among which its impetus is 
divided. This we observe in ourselves, in the evolution 
of that special tendency which we call our character. 


Each of us, glancing back over his history, will find 
that his child-personality, though indivisible, united 
in itself divers persons, which could remain blended 
just because they were in their nascent state: this 
indecision, so charged with promise, is one of the 
greatest charms of childhood. But these interwoven 
personalities become incompatible in course of growth, 
and, as each of us can live but one life, a choice must 
perforce be made. We choose in reality without 
ceasing ; without ceasing, also, we abandon many things. 
The route we pursue in time is strewn with the 
remains of all that we began to be, of all that we might 
have become. But nature, which has at command an 
incalculable number of lives, is in no wise bound to 
make such sacrifices. She preserves the different 
tendencies that have bifurcated in their growth. She 
creates with them diverging series of species that will 
evolve separately. 

These series may, moreover, be of unequal import- 
ance. The author who begins a novel puts into his 
hero many things which he is obliged to discard as he 
goes on. Perhaps he will take them up later in other 
books, and make new characters with them, who will 
seem like extracts from, or rather like complements of, 
the first ; but they will almost always appear somewhat 
poor and limited in comparison with the original 
character. So with regard to the evolution of life. 
The bifurcations on the way have been numerous, but 
there have been many blind alleys beside the two or 
three highways ; and of these highways themselves, 
only one, that which leads through the vertebrates up 
__to man, has been wide enough to allow free passage to 
the full breath of life. We get this impression when 
we compare the societies of bees and ants, for instance, 


with human societies. The former are admirably 
ordered and united, but stereotyped; the latter are 
open to every sort of progress, but divided, and 
incessantly at strife with themselves. The ideal would 
be a society always in progress and always in equilibrium, 
but this ideal is perhaps unrealizable: the two char- 
acteristics that would fain complete each other, which 
do complete each other in their embryonic state, can 
no longer abide together when they: grow stronger. 
If one could speak, otherwise than metaphorically, of 
an impulse toward social life, it might be said that 
the brunt of the impulse was borne along the line of 
evolution ending at man, and that the rest of it was 
collected on the road leading to the hymenoptera: the 
societies of ants and bees would thus present the aspect 
complementary to ours. But this would be only a 
manner of expression. There has been no particular 
impulse towards social life; there is simply the 
general movement of life, which on divergent lines is 
creating forms ever new. If societies should appear 
on two of these lines, they ought to show divergence 
of paths at the same time as community of impetus. 
They will thus develop two classes of characteristics 
which we shall find vaguely complementary of each 

So our study of the evolution movement will 
have to unravel a certain number of divergent direc- 
tions, and to appreciate the importance of what has 
happened along each of them—in a word, to determine 
the nature of the dissociated tendencies and estimate 
their relative proportion. Combining these tendencies, | 
then, we shall get an approximation, or rather an 
imitation, of the indivisible motor principle whence 
their impetus proceeds. Evolution will thus prove to 


be something entirely different from a series of adapta- 
tions to circumstances, as mechanism claims ; entirely 
different also from the realization of a plan of the 
whole, as maintained by the doctrine of finality. 

That adaptation to environment is the necessary 
condition of evolution we do not question for a 
moment. It is quite evident, that a species would 
disappear, should it fail to bend to the conditions of 
existence which are imposed on it. But it is one thing 
to recognise that outer circumstances are forces evolu- 
tion must reckon with, another to claim that they are 
the directing causes of evolution. This latter theory is 
that of mechanism. It excludes absolutely the hypo- 
thesis of an original impetus, I mean an internal push 
that has carried life, by more and more complex forms, 
to higher and higher destinies. Yet this impetus is 
evident, and a mere glance at fossil species shows us 
that life need not have evolved at all, or might have 
evolved only in very restricted limits, if it had chosen 
the alternative, much more convenient to itself, of 
becoming anchylosed in its primitive forms. Certain 
Foraminifera have not varied since the Silurian epoch. 
Unmoved witnesses of the innumerable revolutions 
that have upheaved our planet, the Lingulae are to-day 
what they were at the remotest times of the paleozoic 

The truth is that adaptation explains the sinuosities 
of the movement of evolution, but not its general 
directions, still less the movement itself.’ The road 
that leads to the town is obliged to follow the ups and 

1 This view of adaptation has been noted by M. F. Marin in a remark- 
able article on the origin of species, “L’Origine des espéces” (Revue 
scientifique, Nov. 1901, p. 580). 


downs of the hills ; it adapts itse/f to the accidents of 
the ground ; but the accidents of the ground are not 
the cause of the road, nor have they given it its 
direction. At every moment they furnish it with 
what is indispensable, namely, the soil on which it 
lies ; but if we consider the whole of the road, instead 
of each of its parts, the accidents of the ground appear 
only as impediments or causes of delay, for the road 
aims simply at the town and would fain be a straight 
line. Just so as regards the evolution of life and 
the circumstances through which it passes—with this 
difference, that evolution does not mark out a solitary 
route, that it takes directions without aiming at 
ends, and that it remains inventive even in its 

But, if the evolution of life is something other than 
a series of adaptations to accidental circumstances, so 
also it is not the realization of a plan. A plan is given 
in advance. It is represented, or at least representable, 
before its realization. The complete execution of it 
may be put off to a distant future, or even indefinitely ; 
but the idea is none the less formulable at the present 
time, in terms actually given. If, on the contrary, 
evolution is a creation unceasingly renewed, it creates, 
as it goes on, not only the forms of life, but the ideas 
that will enable the intellect to understand it, the terms 
which will serve to express it. That is to say that its 
future overflows its present, and cannot be sketched 
out therein in an idea. 

There is the first error of finalism. It involves 
another, yet more serious. 

If life realizes a plan, it ought to manifest a greater 
harmony the further it advances, just as the house 
shows better and better the idea of the architect as 


stone is set upon stone. If, on the contrary, the unity 
of life is to be found solely in the impetus that pushes 
it along the road of time, the harmony is not in front, 

but behind. The unity is derived from a vis a tergo: 

it is given at the start as an impulsion, not placed 
at the end as an attraction. In communicating itself, 
the impetus splits up more and more. Life, in pro- 
portion to its progress, is scattered in manifestations 
which undoubtedly owe to their common origin the 
fact that they are complementary to each other in 
certain aspects, but which are none the less mutually 
incompatible and antagonistic. So the discord between 
species will go on increasing. Indeed, we have as yet 
only indicated the essential cause of it. We have 
supposed, for the sake of simplicity, that each species 
received the impulsion in order to pass it on to others, 
and that, in every direction in which life evolves, the 
propagation is in a straight line. But, as a matter of 
fact, there are species which are arrested; there are 
some that retrogress. Evolution is not only a move- 
ment forward ; in many cases we observe a marking 
time, and still more often a deviation or turning back. 
It must be so, as we shall show further on, and the 
same causes that divide the evolution movement often 
cause life to be diverted from itself, hypnotised by the 
form it has just brought forth. Thence results an 
increasing disorder. No doubt there is progress, if 
progress mean a continual advance in the general 
direction determined by a first impulsion; but this 
progress is accomplished only on the two or three 
great lines of evolution on which forms ever more 
and more complex, ever more and more high, appear ; 
between these lines run a crowd of minor paths in 
which, on the contrary, deviations, arrests, and set-backs 


are multiplied. The philosopher, who begins by laying 
down as a principle that each detail is connected with 
some general plan of the whole, goes from one dis- 
appointment to another as soon as he comes to examine 
the facts ; and, as he had put everything in the same 
rank, he finds that, as the result of not allowing for 
accident, he must regard everything as accidental. For 
accident, then, an allowance must first be made, and 
a very liberal allowance. We must recognise that all 
is not coherent in nature. By so doing, we shall be 
led to ascertain the centres around which the in- 
coherence crystallizes. This crystallization itself will 
clarify the rest: the main directions will appear, in 
which life is moving whilst developing the original 
impulse. True, we shall not witness the detailed 
accomplishment of a plan. Nature is more and better 
than a plan in course of realization. A plan is a 
term assigned to a labour: it closes the future whose 
form it indicates. Before the evolution of life, on 
the contrary, the portals of the future remain wide 
open. It is a creation that goes on for ever in virtue 
of an initial movement. This movement constitutes 
the unity of the organized world—a prolific unity, of 
an infinite richness, superior to any that the intellect 
could dream of, for the intellect is only one of its 
aspects or products. 

But it is easier to define the method than to apply 
it. The complete interpretation of the evolution 
movement in the past, as we conceive it, would be 
possible only if the history of the development of the 
organized world were entirely known. Such is far 
from being the case. The genealogies proposed for 
the different species are generally questionable. They 
vary with their authors, with the theoretic views 


inspiring them, and raise discussions to which the 
present state of science does not admit of a final 
settlement. But acomparison of the different solutions 

shows that the controversy bears less on the main lines 

of the movement than on matters of detail ; and so, by 
following the main lines as closely as possible, we shall 
be sure of not going astray. Moreover, they alone 
are important to us; for we do not aim, like the 
naturalist, at finding the order of succession of 
different species, but only at defining the principal 
directions of their evolution. And not all of these 
directions have the same interest for us : what concerns 
us particularly is the path that leads to man. We shall 
therefore not lose sight of the fact, in following one 
direction and another, that our main business is to 
determine the relation of man to the animal kingdom, 
and the place of the animal kingdom itself in the 
organized world as a whole. 

To begin with the second point, let us say that no 
definite characteristic distinguishes the plant from the 
animal. Attempts to define the two kingdoms strictly 
have always come to naught. There is not a single 
property of vegetable life that is not found, in some 
degree, in certain animals ; not a single characteristic 
feature of the animal that has not been seen in certain 
species or at certain moments in the vegetable world. 
Naturally, therefore, biologists enamoured of clean- 
cut concepts have regarded the distinction between the 
two kingdoms as artificial. ‘They would be right, if 
definition in this case must be made, as in the mathe- 
matical and physical sciences, according to certain 
statical attributes which belong to the object defined 
and are not found in any other. Very different, in 


our opinion, is the kind of definition which befits the 
sciences of life. There is no manifestation of life 
which does not contain, in a rudimentary state—either 
latent or potential,—the essential characters of most 
other manifestations. The difference is in the pro- 
portions. But this very difference of proportion will 
suffice to define the group, if we can establish that it 
is not accidental, and that the group, as it evolves, 
tends more and more to emphasize these particular 
characters. Ina word, she group must not be defined by 
the possession of certain characters, but by its tendency 
to emphasize them. From this point of view, taking 
tendencies rather than states into account, we find 
that vegetables and animals may be precisely defined 
and distinguished, and that they correspond to two 
divergent developments of life. 

This divergence is shown, first, in the method of 
alimentation. We know that the vegetable derives 
directly from the air and water and soil the elements 
necessary to maintain life, especially carbon and 
nitrogen, which it takes in mineral form. The animal, 
on the contrary, cannot assimilate these elements 
unless they have already been fixed for it in organic 
substances by plants, or by animals which directly 
or indirectly owe them to plants; so that ultimately 
the vegetable nourishes the animal. True, this law 
allows of many exceptions among vegetables. We do 
not hesitate to class amongst vegetables the Drosera, 
the Dionaea, the Pinguicula, which are insectivorous 
plants. On the other hand, the fungi, which occupy 
so considerable a place in the vegetable world, feed like 
animals: whether they are ferments, saprophytes or 
parasites, it is to already formed organic substances 
that they owe their nourishment. It is therefore 


impossible to draw from this difference any static 
definition such as would automatically settle in any 
particular case the question whether we are deal- 
ing with a plant or an animal. But the difference may 
provide the beginning of a dynamic definition of the 
two kingdoms, in that it marks the two divergent 
directions in which vegetables and animals have taken 
their course. It is a remarkable fact that the fungi, 
which nature has spread all over the earth in such 
extraordinary profusion, have not been able to evolve. 
Organically they do not rise above tissues which, in 
the higher vegetables, are formed in the embryonic 
sac of the ovary, and precede the germinative develop- 
ment of the new individual.’ They might be called 
the abortive children of the vegetable world. Their 
different species are like so many blind alleys, as if, 
by renouncing the mode of alimentation customary 
amongst vegetables, they had been brought to a stand- 
still on the highway of vegetable evolution. As to 
the Drosera, the Dionaea, and insectivorous plants 
in general, they are fed by their roots, like other 
plants ; they too fix, by their green parts, the carbon 
of the carbonic acid in the atmosphere. Their faculty 
of capturing, absorbing and digesting insects must 
have arisen late, in quite exceptional cases where the 
soil was too poor to furnish sufficient nourishment. 
In a general way, then, if we attach less importance to 
the presence of special characters than to their tendency 
to develop, and if we regard as essential that tendency 
along which evolution has been able to continue 
indefinitely, we may say that vegetables are dis- 
tinguished from animals by their power of creating 
organic matter out of mineral elements which they 

1 De Saporta and Marion, L’ Evolution des cryptogames, 1881, p. 37. 


draw directly from the air and earth and water. 
But now we come to another difference, deeper than 
this, though not unconnected with it. 

The animal, being unable to fix directly the carbon 
and nitrogen which are everywhere to be found, has to 
seek for its nourishment vegetables which have already 
fixed these elements, or animals which have taken them 
from the vegetable kingdom. So the animal must be 
able to move. From the amoeba, which thrusts out 
its pseudopodia at random to seize the organic matter 
scattered in a drop of water, up to the higher animals 
which have sense-organs with which to recognise their 
prey, locomotor organs to go and seize it, and a 
nervous system to codrdinate their movements with 
their sensations, animal life is characterized, in its 
general direction, by mobility in space. In its most 
rudimentary form, the animal is a tiny mass of 
protoplasm enveloped at most in a thin albuminous 
pellicle which allows full freedom for change of shape 
and movement. ‘The vegetable cell, on the contrary, is 
surrounded by a membrane of cellulose, which con- 
demns it to immobility. And, from the bottom to the 
top of the vegetable kingdom, there are the same habits 
growing more and more sedentary, the plant having no 
need to move, and finding around it, in the air and 
water and soil in which it is placed, the mineral elements 
it can appropriate directly. It is true that phenomena 
of movement are seen in plants. Darwin has written 
a well-known work on the movements of climbing 
plants. He studied also the contrivances of certain in- 
sectivorous plants, such as the Drosera and the Dionaea, 
to seize their prey. The leaf-movements of the acacia, 
the sensitive plant, etc., are well known. Moreover, 
the circulation of the vegetable protoplasm within its 


sheath bears witness to its relationship to the proto- 
plasm of animals, whilst in a large number of animal 
species (generally parasites) phenomena of fixation, 
analogous to those of vegetables, can be observed.’ 
Here, again, it would be a mistake to claim that fixity 
and mobility are the two characters which enable us 
to decide, by simple inspection alone, whether we have 
before us a plant or an animal. But fixity, in the 
animal, generally seems like a. torpor into which the 
species has fallen, a refusal to evolve further in a 
certain direction ; it 1s closely akin to parasitism and 
is accompanied by features that recall those of vegetable 
life. On the other hand, the movements of vegetables 
have neither the frequency nor the variety of those of 
animals. Generally, they involve only part of the 
organism and scarcely ever extend to the whole. In 
the exceptional cases in which a vague spontaneity 
appears in vegetables, it is as if we beheld the accidental 
awakening of an activity normally asleep. In short, 
although both mobility and fixity exist in the vegetable 
as in the animal world, the balance is clearly in 
favour of fixity in the one case and of mobility in the 
other. These two opposite tendencies are so plainly 
directive of the two evolutions that the two kingdoms 
might almost be defined by them. But fixity and 
mobility, again, are only superficial signs of tendencies 
that are still deeper. 

Between mobility and consciousness there is an 
obvious relationship. No doubt, the consciousness 
of the higher organisms seems bound up with certain 
cerebral arrangements. The more the nervous system 
develops, the more numerous and more precise become 

1 On fixation and parasitism in general, see the work of Houssay, 
La Forme et la vie, Paris, 1900, pp. 721-807. 


the movements among which it can choose; the 
clearer, also, is the consciousness that accompanies 
them. But neither this mobility nor this choice nor 
consequently this consciousness involves as a necessary 
condition the presence of a nervous system ; the latter 
has only canalized in definite directions, and brought 
up to a higher degree of intensity, a rudimentary and 
vague activity, diffused throughout the mass of the 
organized substance. The lower we descend in the 
animal series, the more the nervous centres are simpli- 
fied, and the more, too, they separate from each other, 
till finally the nervous elements disappear, merged in 
the mass of a less differentiated organism. But it is 
the same with all the other apparatus, with all the 
other anatomical elements; and it would be as absurd 
to refuse consciousness to an animal because it has no 
brain as to declare it incapable of nourishing itself be- 
cause it has no stomach. The truth is that the nervous 
system arises, like the other systems, from a division 
of labour. It does not create the function, it only 
brings it to a higher degree of intensity and precision 
by giving it the double form of reflex and voluntary 
activity. To accomplish a true reflex movement, a 
whole mechanism is necessary, set up in the spinal 
cord or the medulla. To choose voluntarily between 
several definite courses of action, cerebral centres are 
necessary, that is, crossways from which paths start, 
leading to motor mechanisms of diverse form but equal 
precision. But where nervous elements are not yet 
canalized, still less concentrated into a system, there is 
something from which, by a kind of splitting, both the 
reflex and the voluntary will arise, something which 
has neither the mechanical precision of the former 
nor the intelligent hesitations of the latter, but which, 


partaking of both it may be infinitesimally, is a reaction 
simply undecided, and therefore vaguely conscious. 
This amounts to saying that the humblest organism 
is conscious in proportion to its power to move /reely. 
Is consciousness here, in relation to movement, the effect 
or the cause? In one sense it is the cause, since it has 
to direct locomotion. But in another sense it is the 
effect, for it is the motor activity that maintains it, 
and, once this activity disappears, consciousness dies 
away or rather falls asleep. In crustaceans such as 
the rhizocephala, which must formerly have shown a 
more differentiated structure, fixity and parasitism 
accompany the degeneration and almost complete dis- 
appearance of the nervous system. Since, in such a 
case, the progress of organization must have localized all 
the conscious activity in nervous centres, we may con- 
jecture that consciousness is even weaker in animals of 
this kind than in organisms much less differentiated, 
which have never had nervous centres but have 
remained mobile. 

How then could the plant, which is fixed in the 
earth and finds its food on the spot, have developed in 
the direction of conscious activity ? The membrane of 
cellulose, in which the protoplasm wraps itself up, not 
only prevents the simplest vegetable organism from 
moving, but screens it also, in some measure, from 
those outer stimuli which act on the sensibility of the 
animal as irritants and prevent it from going to sleep.! 

_The plant is therefore unconscious. Here again, 
however, we must beware of radical distinctions. 
“Unconscious” and “conscious” are not two labels 
which can be mechanically fastened, the one on every 
vegetable cell, the other on all animals. While conscious- 
7 1 Cope, op. cit. p. 76. 7 


ness sleeps in the animal which has degenerated into a 
motionless parasite, it probably awakens in the vegetable 
that has regained liberty of movement, and awakens in just 
the degree to which the vegetable has reconquered this 
liberty. Nevertheless, consciousness and unconscious- 
ness mark the directions in which the two kingdoms 
have developed, in this sense, that to find the best 
specimens of consciousness in the animal we must 
ascend to the highest representatives of the series, 
whereas, to find probable cases of vegetable conscious- 
ness, we must descend as low as possible in the scale of 
plants—down to the zoospores of the algae, for instance, 
and, more generally, to those unicellular organisms 
which may be said to hesitate between the vegetable 
form and animality. From this standpoint, and in this 
measure, we should define the animal by sensibility and 
awakened consciousness, the vegetable by conscious- 
ness asleep and by insensibility. 

To sum up, the vegetable manufactures organic sub- 
stances directly with mineral substances ; as a rule, this 
aptitude enables it to dispense with movement and so 
with feeling. Animals, which are obliged to go in 
search of their food, have evolved in the direction of 
locomotor activity, and consequently of a consciousness 
more and more distinct, more and more ample. 

Now, it seems to us most probable that the animal 
cell and the vegetable cell are derived from a common 
stock, and that the first living organisms oscillated 
between the vegetable and animal form, participating 
in both at once. Indeed, we have just seen that the 
characteristic tendencies of the evolution of the two 
kingdoms, although divergent, coexist even now, both 
in the plant and in the animal. The proportion alone 


differs. Ordinarily, one of the two tendencies covers 
or crushes down the other, but in exceptional circum- 
stances the suppressed one starts up and regains the 
place it had lost. The mobility and consciousness of 
the vegetable cell are not so sound asleep that they can- 
not rouse themselves when circumstances permit or 
demand it; and, on the other hand, the evolution of 
the animal kingdom has always been retarded, or stopped, 
or dragged back, by the tendency it has kept toward 
the vegetative life. However full, however overflow- 
ing the activity of an animal species may appear, torpor 
and unconsciousness are always lying in wait forit. It 
keeps up its rdle only by effort, at the price of fatigue. 
Along the route on which the animal has evolved, 
there have been numberless shortcomings and cases of 
decay, generally associated with parasitic habits ; they 
are so many shuntings on to the vegetative life. Thus, 
everything bears out the belief that vegetable and 
animal are descended from a common ancestor which 
united the tendencies of both in a rudimentary state. 
But the two tendencies mutually implied in this 
rudimentary form became dissociated as they grew. 
Hence the world of plants with its fixity and insensi- 
bility, hence the animals with their mobility and con- 
sciousness. ‘There is no need, in order to explain this 
dividing into two, to bring in any mysterious force. It is 
enough to point out that the living being leans naturally 
toward what is most convenient to it, and that vegetables 
and animals have chosen two different kinds of con- 
venience in the way of procuring the carbon and nitrogen 
they need. Vegetables continually and mechanically 
draw these elements from an environment that continu- 
ally provides it. Animals, by action that is discon- 
tinuous, concentrated in certain moments, and conscious, 


go to find these bodies in organisms that have already 
fixed them. They are two different ways of being in- 
dustrious, or perhaps we may prefer to say, of being idle. 
For this very reason we doubt whether nervous elements, 
however rudimentary, will ever be found in the plant. 
What corresponds in it to the directing will of the 
animal is, we believe, the direction in which it bends the 
energy of the solar radiation when it uses it to break the 
connection of the carbon with the oxygen in carbonic acid. 
What corresponds in it to the sensibility of the animal is 
the impressionability, quite of its kind, of its chlorophyl 
to light. Now, a nervous system being pre-eminently 
a mechanism which serves as intermediary between 
sensations and volitions, the true “ nervous system” of 
the plant seems to be the mechanism or rather chemicism 
sui generis which serves as intermediary between the im- 
pressionability of its chlorophyl to light and the produc- 
ing of starch: which amounts to saying that the plant can 
have no nervous elements, and that the same impetus that 
has led the animal to give itself nerves and nerve centres must 
have ended, in the plant, in the chlorophylitan function2 

This first glance over the organized world will 
enable us to ascertain more precisely what unites the 
two kingdoms, and also what separates them. 

Suppose, as we suggested in the preceding chapter, 
that at the root of life there is an effort to engraft on to 

1 Just as the plant, in certain cases, recovers the faculty of moving 
actively which slumbers in it, so the animal, in exceptional circumstances, 
can replace itself in the conditions of the vegetative life and develop in itself 
an equivalent of the chlorophyllian function. It appears, indeed, from 
recent experiments of Maria von Linden, that the chrysalides and the 
caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera, under the influence of light, fix the 
carbon of the carbonic acid contained in the atmosphere (M. von Linden, 
“L’ Assimilation de l’acide carbonique par les chrysalides de Lépidopteéres,” 
C.R. de la Soc. de biologie, 1905, pp. 692 ff.). 


the necessity of physical forces the largest possible amount 
of indetermination. ‘This effort cannot result in the 
creation of energy, or, if it does, the quantity created 
does not belong to the order of magnitude apprehended 
by our senses and instruments of measurement, our ex- 
perience and science. All that the effort can do, then, is 
to make the best of a pre-existing energy which it finds 
at its disposal. Now, it finds only one way of succeed- 
ing in this, namely, to secure such an accumulation of 
potential energy from matter, that it can get, at any 
moment, the amount of work it needs for its action, 
simply by pulling a trigger. The effort itself possesses 
only that power of releasing. But the work of releasing, 
although always the same and always smaller than any 
given quantity, will be the more effective the heavier 
the weight it makes fall and the greater the height—or, 
in other words, the greater the sum of potential energy 
accumulated and disposable. As a matter of fact, the 
principal source of energy usable on the surface of our 
planet is the sun. So the problem was this: to obtain 
from the sun that it should partially and provisionally 
suspend, here and there, on the surface of the earth, its 
continual outpour of usable energy, and store a certain 
quantity of it, in the form of unused energy, in 
appropriate reservoirs, whence it could be drawn at the 
desired moment, at the desired spot, in the desired 
direction. The substances forming the food of animals 
are just such reservoirs. Made of very complex mole- 
cules holding a considerable amount of chemical energy 
in the potential state, they are like explosives which only 
need a spark to set free the energy stored within them. 
Now, it is probable that life tended at the beginning to 
compass at one and the same time both the manufac- 
ture of the explosive and the explosion by which it 


is utilized. In this case, the same organism that 
had directly stored the energy of the solar radiation 
would have expended it in free movements in space. 
And for that reason we must presume that the first living 
beings sought on the one hand to accumulate, without 
ceasing, energy borrowed from the sun, and on the 
other hand to expend it, in a discontinuous and ex- 
plosive way, in movements of locomotion. Even 
to-day, perhaps, a chlorophyl-bearing Infusorian such as 
the Euglena may symbolize this primordial tendency of 
life, though in a mean form, incapable of evolving. Is 
the divergent development of the two kingdoms related 
to what one may call the oblivion of each kingdom as 
regards one of the two halves of the programme? Or 
rather, which is more likely, was the very nature of 
the matter, that life found confronting it on our planet, 
opposed to the possibility of the two tendencies evolving 
very far together in the same organism? What is 
certain is that the vegetable has trended principally in 
the first direction and the animal in the second. But 
if, from the very first, in making the explosive, nature 
had for object the explosion, then it is the evolution of 
the animal, rather than that of the vegetable, that in- 
dicates, on the whole, the fundamental direction of life. 

The “harmony” of the two kingdoms, the com- 
plementary characters they display, might then be 
due to the fact that they develop two tendencies 
which at first were fused in one. The more the 
single original tendency grows, the harder it finds it to 
keep united in the same living being those two elements 
which in the rudimentary state implied each other. 
Hence a parting in two, hence two divergent evolutions ; 
hence also two series of characters opposed in certain 
points, complementary in others, but, whether opposed 


or complementary, always preserving an appearance of 
kinship. While the animal evolved, not without 
accidents along the way, toward a freer and freer ex- 
penditure of discontinuous energy, the plant perfected 

rather its system of accumulation without moving. 

We shall not dwell on this second point. Suffice it to 
say that the plant must have been greatly benefited, in 
its turn, by a new division, analogous to that between 
plants and animals. While the primitive vegetable 
cell had to fix by itself both its carbon and its nitrogen, 
it became able almost to give up the second of these 
two functions as soon as microscopic vegetables came 
forward which leaned in this direction exclusively, and 
even specialised diversely in this still complicated busi- 
ness. The microbes that fix the nitrogen of the air and 
those which convert the ammoniacal compounds into 
nitrous ones, and these again into nitrates, have, by the 
same splitting up of a tendency primitively one, rendered 
to the whole vegetable world the same kind of service as 
the vegetables in general have rendered to animals. If 
a special kingdom were to be made for these microscopic 
vegetables, it might be said that in the microbes of the 
soil, the vegetables and the animals, we have before us 
the analysis, carried out by the matter that life found at its 
disposal on our planet, of all that life contained, at the 
outset, in a state of reciprocal implication. Is this, 
properly speaking, a “‘division of labour”? These words 
do not give the exact idea of evolution, such as we con- 
ceive it. Wherever there is division of labour, there is 
association and also convergence of effort. Now, the evolu- 
tion we are speaking of is never achieved by means of 
association, but by dissociation ; it never tends toward 
convergence, but toward divergence of efforts. The 
harmony between terms that are mutually comple- 


mentary in certain points is not, in our opinion, 
produced, in course of progress, by a reciprocal adapta- 
tion ; on the contrary, it is complete only at the start. 
It arises from an original identity, from the fact that 
the evolutionary process, splaying out like a sheaf, 
sunders, in proportion to their simultaneous growth, 
terms which at first completed each other so well that 
they coalesced. 

Now, the elements into which a tendency splits up 
are far from possessing the same importance, or, above 
all, the same power to evolve. We have just dis- 
tinguished three different kingdoms, if one may so 
express it, in the organized world. While the first 
comprises only micro-organisms which have remained 
in the rudimentary state, animals and vegetables have 
taken their flight toward very lofty fortunes. Such, 
indeed, is generally the case when a tendency divides. 
Among the divergent developments to which it 
gives rise, some go on indefinitely, others come more 
or less quickly to the end of their tether. These latter 
do not issue directly from the primitive tendency, but 
from one of the elements into which it has divided ; 
they are residual developments made and left behind 
on the way by some truly elementary tendency which 
continues to evolve. Now, these truly elementary 
tendencies, we think, bear a mark by which they may 
be recognised. 

This mark is like a trace, still visible in each, of 
what was in the original tendency of which they re- 
present the elementary directions. The elements of a 
tendency are not like objects set beside each other in 
space and mutually exclusive, but rather like psychic 
states, each of which, although it be itself to begin 
with, yet partakes of others, and so virtually includes 


in itself the whole personality to which it belongs. 
There is no real manifestation of life, we said, that 
does not show us, in a rudimentary or latent state, the 
characters of other manifestations. Conversely, when 
we meet, on one line of evolution, a recollection, so to 
speak, of what is developed along other lines, we must 
conclude that we have before us dissociated elements of 
one and the same original tendency. In this sense, 
vegetables and animals represent the two great divergent 
developments of life. Though the plant is distinguished 
from the animal by fixity and insensibility, movement 
and consciousness sleep in it as recollections which may 
waken. But, beside these normally sleeping recollections, 
there are others awake and active, just those, namely, 
whose activity does not obstruct the development of 
the elementary tendency itself. We may then formulate 
this law: When a tendency splits up in the course of its 
development, each of the spectal tendencies which thus arise 
tries to preserve and develop everything in the primitive 
tendency that is not incompatible with the work for which 
it is specialized. ‘This explains precisely the fact we 
dwelt on in the preceding chapter, viz., the formation 
of identical complex mechanisms on independent lines 
of evolution. Certain deep-seated analogies between 
the animal and the vegetable have probably no other 
cause : sexual generation is perhaps only a luxury for 
the plant, but to the animal it was a necessity, and the 
plant must have been driven to it by the same impetus 
which impelled the animal thereto, a primitive, original 
impetus, anterior to the separation of the two king- 
doms. The same may be said of the tendency of 
the vegetable towards a growing complexity. This 
tendency is essential to the animal kingdom, ever 
tormented by the need of more and more extended 


and effective action. But the vegetable, condemned to 
fixity and insensibility, exhibits the same tendency only 
because it received at the outset the same impulsion. 
Recent experiments show that it varies at random when 
the period of “ mutation” arrives ; whereas the animal 
must have evolved, we believe, in much more definite 
directions. But we will not dwell further on this original 
doubling of the modes of life. Let us come to the 
evolution of animals, in which we are more particularly 

What constitutes animality, we said, is the faculty 
of utilizing a releasing mechanism for the conversion 
of as much stored-up potential energy as possible into 
“explosive’’ actions. In the beginning the explosion 
is haphazard, and does not choose its direction. Thus 
the amoeba thrusts out its pseudopodic prolongations 
in all directions at once. But, as we rise in the 
animal scale, the form of the body itself is observed to 
indicate a certain number of very definite directions 
along which the energy travels. These directions are 
marked by so many chains of nervous elements. Now, 
the nervous element has gradually emerged from 
the barely differentiated mass of organized tissue. 
It may, therefore, be surmised that in the nervous 
element, as soon as it appears, and also in its append- 
ages, the faculty of suddenly freeing the gradually 
stored-up energy is concentrated. No doubt, every 
living cell expends energy without ceasing, in order 
to maintain its equilibrium. The vegetable cell, torpid 
from the start, is entirely absorbed in this work of 
maintenance alone, as if it took for end what must at 
first have been only a means. But, in the animal, all 
points to action, that is, to the utilization of energy for 


movements from place to place. True, every animal 
celi expends a good deal—often the whole—of the 
energy at its disposal in keeping itself alive ; but the 
organism as a whole tries to attract as much energy as 
possible to those points where the locomotive move- 
ments are effected. So that where a nervous system 
exists, with its complementary sense-organs and motor 
apparatus, everything should happen as if the rest of 
the body had, as its essential function, to prepare for 
these and pass on to them, at the moment required, that 
force which they are to liberate by a sort of explosion. 

The part played by food amongst the higher animals 
is, indeed, extremely complex. In the first place it serves 
to repair tissues, then it provides the animal with the 
heat necessary to render it as independent as possible 
of changes in external temperature. Thus it pre- 
serves, supports, and maintains the organism in which 
the nervous system is set and on which the nervous 
elements have to live. But these nervous elements 
would have no reason for existence if the organism 
did not pass to them, and especially to the muscles 
they control, a certain energy to expend ; and it may 
even be conjectured that there, in the main, is the 
essential and ultimate destination of food. This does 
not mean that the greater part of the food is used in this 
work. A state may have to make enormous expendi- 
ture to secure the return of taxes, and the sum which 
it will have to dispose of, after deducting the cost of 
collection, will perhaps be very small: that sum is, none 
the less, the reason for the tax and for all that has been 
spent to obtain its return. So is it with the energy 
which the animal demands of its food. 

Many facts seem to indicate that the nervous and 
muscular elements stand in this relation towards the 


rest of the organism. Glance first at the distribution 
of alimentary substances among the different elements 
of the living body. These substances fall into two 
classes, one the quaternary or albuminoid, the other the 
ternary, including the carbohydrates and the fats. The 
albuminoids are properly plastic, destined to repair the 
tissues—although, owing to the carbon they contain, 
they are capable of providing energy on occasion. But 
the function of supplying energy has devolved more 
particularly on the second class of substances : these, 
being deposited in the cell rather than forming part of 
its substance, convey to it, in the form of chemical 
potential, an expansive energy that may be directly con- 
verted into either movement or heat. In short, the chief 
function of the albuminoids is to repair the machine, 
while the function of the other class of substances is to 
supply power. It is natural that the albuminoids should 
have no specially allotted destination, since every part 
of the machine has to be maintained. But not so with 
the other substances. The carbohydrates are distributed 
very unequally, and this inequality of distribution seems 
to us in the highest degree instructive. 

Conveyed by the arterial blood in the form of 
glucose, these substances are deposited, in the form of 
glycogen, in the different cells forming the tissues. 
We know that one of the principal functions of the 
liver is to maintain at a constant level the quantity of 
glucose held by the blood, by means of the reserves 
of glycogen secreted by the hepatic cells. Now, in this 
circulation of glucose and accumulation of glycogen, 
it is easy to see that the effect is as if the whole effort 
of the organism were directed towards providing with 
potential energy the elements of both the muscular and 
the nervous tissues. The organism proceeds differently 


in the two cases, but it arrives at the same result. In 
the first case, it provides the muscle-cell with a large 
reserve deposited in advance: the quantity of glycogen 
contained in the muscles is, indeed, enormous in 
comparison with what is found in the other tissues. 
In the nervous tissue, on the contrary, the reserve 
is small (the nervous elements, whose function is 
merely to liberate the potential energy stored in the 
muscle, never have to furnish much work at one time) ; 
but the remarkable thing is that this reserve is restored 
by the blood at the very moment that it is expended, 
so that the nerve is instantly recharged with potential 
energy. Muscular tissue and nervous tissue are, 
therefore, both privileged, the one in that it is stocked 
with a large reserve of energy, the other in that it is 
always served at the instant it is in need and to the 
exact extent of its requirements. 

More particularly, it is from the sensori-motor 
system that the call for glycogen, the potential 
energy, comes, as if the rest of the organism were 
simply there in order to transmit force to the nervous 
system and to the muscles which the nerves control. 
True, when we think of the part played by the nervous 
system (even the sensori-motor system) as regulator 
of the organic life, it may well be asked whether, in this 
exchange of good offices between it and the rest of the 
body, the nervous system is indeed a master that the 
body serves. But we shall already incline to this hypo- 
thesis when we consider, even in the static state only, 
the distribution of potential energy among the tissues ; 
and we shall be entirely convinced of it when we reflect 
upon the conditions in which the energy is expended 
and restored. For suppose the sensori-motor system 

is a system like the others, of the same rank as the 


others. Borne by the whole of the organism, it will 
wait until an excess of chemical potential is supplied 
to it before it performs any work. In other words, 
it is the production of glycogen which will regulate 
the consumption by the nerves and muscles. On 
the contrary, if the sensori-motor system is the actual 
master, the duration and extent of its action will be 
independent, to a certain extent at least, of the reserve 
of glycogen that it holds, and even of that contained 
in the whole of the organism. It will perform work, 
and the other tissues will have to arrange as they can 
to supply it with potential energy. Now, this is pre- 
cisely what does take place, as is shown in particular by 
the experiments of Morat and Dufourt.’ While the 
glycogenic function of the liver depends on the action 
of the excitory nerves which control it, the action of 
these nerves is subordinated to the action of those 
which stimulate the locomotor muscles—in this sense, 
that the muscles begin by expending without calculation, 
thus consuming glycogen, impoverishing the blood of 
its glucose, and finally causing the liver, which has 
had to pour into the impoverished blood some of its 
reserve of glycogen, to manufacture a fresh supply. 
From the sensori-motor system, then, everything 
starts ; on that system everything converges 5 and we 
may say, without metaphor, that the rest of the organism 
is at its service. 

Consider again what happens in a prolonged fast. 
It is a remarkable fact that in animals that have died of 
hunger the brain is found to be almost unimpaired, while 
the other organs have lost more or less of their weight 
and their cells have undergone profound changes.? It 

1 Archives de physiologie, 1892. 
® De Manactine, “ Quelques Observations expérimentales sur l’influence de 


seems as though the rest of the body had sustained 
the nervous system to the last extremity, treating itself 
simply as the means of which the nervous system 
is the end. . 

To sum up: if we agree, in short, to understand by 
“the sensori-motor system ” the cerebro-spinal nervous 
system together with the sensorial apparatus in which it 
is prolonged and the locomotor muscles it controls, 
we may say that a higher organism is essentially a 
sensori-motor system installed on systems of digestion, 
respiration, circulation, secretion, etc., whose function 
it is to repair, cleanse and protect it, to create an 
unvarying internal environment for it, and above all 
to pass it potential energy to convert into locomotive 
movement.’ It is true that the more the nervous 
function is perfected, the more must the functions 
required to maintain it develop, and the more exacting, 
consequently, they become for themselves. As the 
nervous activity has emerged from the protoplasmic 
mass in which it was almost drowned, it has had to 
summon around itself activities of all kinds for its 
support. These could only be developed on other 

linsomnie absolue” (Arch. ital. de biologie, t. xxi., 1894, pp. 322 ff.). Recently, 
analogous observations have been made on a man who died of inanition 
after a fast of thirty-five days. See, on this subject, in the Année biologique 
of 1898, p. 338, the résumé of an article (in Russian) by Tarakevitch and 

1 Cuvier said: “The nervous system is, at bottom, the whole animal ; 
the other systems are there only to serve it.” (“Sur un nouveau rapproche- 
ment a établir entre les classes qui composent le régne animal,” Arch. du 
Muséum @histoire naturelle, Paris, 1812, pp. 73-84). Of course, it would 
be necessary to apply a great many restrictions to this formula—for example, 
to allow for the cases of degradation and retrogression in which the nervous 
system passes into the background. And, moreover, with the nervous 
system must be included the sensorial apparatus on the one hand and 
the motor on the other, between which it acts as intermediary. Cf. 
Foster, art. “Physiology,” in the Excyclopaedia Britannica, Edinburgh, 1885, 


activities, which again implied others, and so on in- 
definitely. Thus it is that the complexity of functioning 
of the higher organisms goes on to infinity. The study 
of one of these organisms therefore takes us round in 
a circle, as if everything was a means to everything 
else. But the circle has a centre, none the less, and that 
is the system of nervous elements stretching between 
the sensory organs and the motor apparatus. 

We will not dwell here on a point we have treated 
at length in a former work. Let us merely recall that 
the progress of the nervous system has been effected 
both in the direction of a more precise adaptation of 
movements and in that of a greater latitude left to the 
living being to choose between them. These two 
tendencies may appear antagonistic, and indeed they 
are so; but a nervous chain, even in its most rudi- 
mentary form, successfully reconciles them. On the 
one hand, it marks a well-defined track between one 
point of the periphery and another, the one sensory, 
the other motor. It has therefore canalized an activity 
which was originally diffused in the protoplasmic mass. 
But, on the other hand, the elements that compose it 
are probably discontinuous ; at any rate, even supposing 
they anastomose, they exhibit a functional discontinuity, 
for each of them ends in a kind of cross-road where 
probably the nervous current may choose its course. 
From the humblest Monera to the best endowed insects, 
and up to the most intelligent vertebrates, the progress 
realized has been above all a progress of the nervous 
system, coupled at every stage with all the new con- 
structions and complications of mechanism that this 
progress required. As we foreshadowed in the be- 
ginning of this work, the rdéle of life is to insert 
some indetermination into matter. Indeterminate, i.e. 


unforeseeable, are the forms it creates in the course 
of its evolution. More and more indeterminate also, 
more and more free, is the activity to which these 
forms serve as the vehicle. A nervous system, with 
neurones placed end to end in such wise that, at 
the extremity of each, manifold ways open in which 
manifold questions present themselves, is a veritable 
reservoir of indetermination. ‘That the main energy of 
the vital impulse has been spent in creating apparatus 
of this kind is, we believe, what a glance over the 
organized world as a whole easily shows. But con- 
cerning the vital impulse itself a few explanations are 

It must not be forgotten that the force which is 
evolving throughout the organized world is a limited 
force, which is always seeking to transcend itself and 
always remains inadequate to the work it would fain 
produce. The errors and puerilities of radical finalism 
are due to the misapprehension of this point. It has 
represented the whole of the living world as a construc- 
tion, and a construction analogous to a human work. 
All the pieces have been arranged with a view to the 
_ best possible functioning of the machine. \ Each species 
has its reason for existence, its part to play, its allotted 
place ; and all join together, as it were, in a musical 
concert, wherein the seeming discords are really meant 
to bring out a fundamental harmony. In short, all 
goes on in nature as in the works of human genius, 
where, though the result may be trifling, there is at 
least perfect adequacy between the object made and 
the work of making it. 

Nothing of the kind in the evolution of life. There, 
the disproportion is striking between the work and the 


result. From the bottom to the top of the organized 
world we do indeed find one great effort ; but most 
often this effort turns short, sometimes paralysed by 
contrary forces, sometimes diverted from what it should 
do by what it does, absorbed by the form it is engaged 
in taking, hypnotized by it as by amirror. Even in its 
most perfect works, though it seems to have triumphed 
over external resistances and also over its own, it is 
at the mercy of the materiality which it has had to 
assume. It is what each of us may experience in himself. 
Our freedom, in the very movements by which 
it is affirmed, creates the growing habits that will 
stifle it if it fails to renew itself by a constant 
effort: it is dogged by automatism. The most living 
thought becomes frigid in the formula that expresses it. 
The word turns against the idea. The letter kills the 
spirit. And our most ardent enthusiasm, as soon as 
it is externalized into action, is so naturally con- 
gealed into the cold calculation of interest or vanity, 
the one takes so easily the shape of the other, that 
we might confuse them together, doubt our own 
sincerity, deny goodness and love, if we did not 
know that the dead retain for a time the features 
of the living. 

The profound cause of this discordance lies in 
an irremediable difference of rhythm. Life in general 
is mobility itself; particular manifestations of life 
accept this mobility reluctantly, and constantly lag 
behind. It is always going ahead; they want to 
mark time. Evolution in general would fain go 
on in a straight line; each special evolution is a 
kind of circle. Like eddies of dust raised by the 
wind as it passes, the living turn upon themselves, 
borne up by the great blast of life. They are therefore 


relatively stable, and counterfeit immobility so well 
that we treat each of them as a ¢hing rather than as a 
progress, forgetting that the very permanence of their 
form is only the outline of a movement. At times, 
however, in a fleeting vision, the invisible breath that 
bears them is materialized before our eyes. We have 
this sudden illumination before certain forms of maternal 
love, so striking and in most animals so touching, 
observable even in the solicitude of the plant for its 
seed. This love, in which some have seen the great 
mystery of life, may possibly deliver us life’s secret. It 
shows us each generation leaning over the generation 
that shall follow. It allows us a glimpse of the fact 
that the living being is above all a thoroughfare, and 
that the essence of life is in the movement by which 
life is transmitted. 

This contrast between life in general, and the forms 
in which it is manifested, has everywhere the same 
character. It might be said that life tends toward the 
utmost possible action, but that each species prefers to 
contribute the slightest possible effort. Regarded in what 
constitutes its true essence, namely, as a transition from 
species to species, life is a continually growing action. 
But each of the species, through which life passes, aims 
only at its own convenience. It goes for that which 
demands the least labour. Absorbed in the form it is 
about to take, it falls into a partial sleep, in which it 
ignores almost all the rest of life ; it fashions itself so 
as to take the greatest possible advantage of its im- 
mediate environment with the least possible trouble. 
Accordingly, the act by which life goes forward to the 
creation of a new form, and the act by which this 
form is shaped, are two different and often antagon- 
istic movements. The first is continuous with the 


second, but cannot continue in it without being drawn 
aside from its direction, as would happen to a man 
leaping, if, in order to clear the obstacle, he had to 
turn his eyes from it and look at himself all the while. 

Living forms are, by their very definition, forms 
that are able to live. In whatever way the adaptation of 
the organism to its circumstances is explained, it has 
necessarily been sufficient, since the species has subsisted. 
In this sense, each of the successive species that paleon- 
tology and zoology describes was a success carried off by 
life. But we get a very different impression when we 
refer each species to the movement that has left it behind 
on its way, instead of to the conditions into which it has 
been set. Often this movement has turned aside ; very 
often, too, it has stopped short ; what was to have been 
a thoroughfare has becomeaterminus’ From this new 
point of view, failure seems the rule, success exceptional 
and always imperfect. We shall see that, of the four 
main directions along which animal life bent its course, 
two have led to blind alleys, and, in the other two, the 
effort has generally been out of proportion to the result. 

Documents are lacking to reconstruct this history in 
detail, but we can make out its main lines. We have 
already said that animals and vegetables must have 
separated soon from their common stock, the vegetable 
falling asleep in immobility, the animal, on the con- 
trary, becoming more and more awake and marching on 
to the conquest of a nervous system. Probably the effort 
of the animal kingdom resulted in creating organisms 
still very simple, but endowed with a certain freedom 
of action, and, above all, with a shape so undecided 
that it could lend itself to any future determination. 
These animals may have resembled some of our worms, 
but with this difference, however, that the worms living 


to-day, to which they could be compared, are but the 
empty and fixed examples of infinitely plastic forms, 
pregnant with an unlimited future, the common stock 
of the echinoderms, molluscs, arthropods, and verte- 

One danger lay in wait for them, one obstacle which 
might have stopped the soaring course of animal life. 
There is one peculiarity with which we cannot help 
being struck when glancing over the fauna of primitive 
times, namely, the imprisonment of the animal in a 
more or less solid sheath, which must have obstructed 
and often even paralysed its movements. The 
molluscs of that time had a shell more universally than 
those of to-day. The arthropods in general were pro- 
vided with a carapace ; most of them were crustaceans. 
The more ancient fishes had a bony sheath of extreme 
hardness.' The explanation of this general fact should 
be sought, we believe, in a tendency of soft organisms 
to defend themselves against one another by making 
themselves, as far as possible, undevourable. Each 
species, in the act by which it comes into being, trends 
towards that which is most expedient. Just as among 
primitive organisms there were some that turned 
towards animal life by refusing to manufacture organic 
out of inorganic material and taking organic sub- 
stances ready made from organisms that had turned 
toward the vegetative life, so, among the animal 
species themselves, many contrived to live at the 
expense of other animals. \For an organism that is 
animal, that is to say mobile, can avail itself of its 
mobility to go in search of defenceless animals, and 
feed on them quite as well as on vegetables. So, the 

1 See, on these different points, the work of Gaudry, Essai de paléon- 
tologie philosophique, Paris, 1896, pp. 14-16 and 78-79. 


more species became mobile, the more they became 
voracious and dangerous to one another. Hence a 
sudden arrest of the entire animal world in its pro- 
gress towards higher and higher mobility; for the 
hard and calcareous skin of the echinoderm, the shell 
of the mollusc, the carapace of the crustacean and the 
ganoid breast-plate of the ancient fishes probably 
all originated in a common effort of the animal species 
to protect themselves against hostile species. But this 
breast-plate, behind which the animal took shelter, 
constrained it in its movements and sometimes fixed 
it in one place. If the vegetable renounced con- 
sciousness in wrapping itself in a cellulose membrane, 
the animal that shut itself up in a citadel or in armour 
condemned itself to a partial slumber. In this torpor 
the echinoderms and even the molluscs live to-day. 
Probably arthropods and vertebrates were threatened 
with it too. They escaped, however, and to this 
fortunate circumstance is due the expansion of the 
highest forms of life. 

In two directions, in fact, we see the impulse of life 
to movement getting the upper hand again. The 
fishes exchanged their ganoid breast-plate for scales. 
Long before that, the insects had appeared, also dis- 
encumbered of the breast-plate that had protected their 
ancestors. Both supplemented the insufficiency of their 
protective covering by an agility that enabled them to 
escape their enemies, and also to assume the offensive, 
to choose the place and the moment of encounter. We 
see a progress of the same kind in the evolution of 
human armaments. The first impulse is to seek 
shelter ; the second, which is the better, is to become as 
supple as possible for flight and above all for attack— 
attack being the most effective means of defence. So 


the heavy hoplite was supplanted by the legionary ; the 
knight, clad in armour, had to give place to the light 
free-moving infantryman ; and ina general way, in the 
evolution of life, just as in the evolution of human 
societies and of individual destinies, the greatest 
successes have been for those that have accepted the 
heaviest risks. 

Evidently, then, it was to the animal’s interest to 
make itself more mobile. As we said when speaking 
of adaptation in general, any transformation of a species 
can be explained by its own particular interest. This 
will give the immediate cause of the variation, but often 
only the most superficial cause. The profound cause is 
the impulse which thrust life into the world, which 
made it divide into vegetables and animals, which 
shunted the animal on to suppleness of form, and 
which, at a certain moment, in the animal kingdom 
threatened with torpor, secured that, on some points at 
least, it should rouse itself up and move forward. 

On the two paths along which the vertebrates 
and arthropods have separately evolved, development 
(apart from retrogressions connected with parasitism 
or any other cause) has consisted above all in 
the progress of the sensori-motor nervous system. 
_ Mobility and suppleness were sought for, and also 
—through many experimental attempts, and not with- 
out a tendency to excess of substance and brute 
force at the start—variety of movements. But this 
quest itself took place in divergent directions. A 
glance at the nervous system of the arthropods and that 
of the vertebrates shows us the difference. In the 
arthropods, the body is formed of a series more or 
less long of rings set together ; motor activity is thus 
distributed amongst a varying—sometimes a con- 


siderable—number of appendages, each of which has 
its special function. In the vertebrates, activity is 
concentrated in two pairs of members only, and these 
organs perform functions which depend much less 
strictly on their form." The independence becomes 
complete in man, whose hand is capable of any kind of 

That, at least, is what we see. But behind what 
is seen there is what may be surmised—two powers, 
immanent in life and originally intermingled, which 
were bound to part company in course of growth. 

To define these powers, we must consider, in the 
evolution both of the arthropods and the vertebrates, 
the species which mark the culminating point of each. 
How is this point to be determined? Here again, 
to aim at geometrical precision will lead us astray. 
There is no single simple sign by which we can 
recognize that one species is more advanced than another 
on the same line of evolution. There are manifold 
characters, that must be compared and weighed in each 
particular case, in order to ascertain to what extent they 
are essential or accidental and how far they must be 
taken into account. 

It is unquestionable, for example, that success is the 
most general criterion of superiority, the two terms 
being, up to a certain point, synonymous. By success 
must be understood, so far as the living being is con- 
cerned, an aptitude to develop in the most diverse 
environments, through the greatest possible variety of 
obstacles, so as to cover the widest possible extent of 
ground. A species which claims the entire earth for 
its domain is truly a dominating and consequently 

1 See, on this subject, Shaler, The Individual, New York, 1900, pp 


superior species. Such is the human species, which 
represents the culminating point of the evolution of the 
vertebrates. But such also are, in the series of the 
articulate, the insects and in particular certain Hymen- 
optera. It has been said of the ants that, as man is 
lord of the soil, they are lords of the sub-soil. 

On the other hand, a group of species that has 
appeared late may be a group of degenerates ; but, for 
that, some special cause of retrogression must have 
intervened. By right, this group should be superior 
to the group from which it is derived, since it would 
correspond to a more advanced stage of evolution. 
Now man is probably the latest comer of the verte- 
brates ; and in the insect series no species is later than 
the Hymenoptera, unless it be the Lepidoptera, which 
are probably degenerates, living parasitically on flower- 
ing plants. 

So, by different ways, we are led to the same con- 
clusion. The evolution of the arthropods reaches its 
culminating point in the insect, and in particular in 
the Hymenoptera, as that of the vertebrates in man. 
Now, since instinct is nowhere so developed as in the 
insect world, and in no group of insects so marvel- 
lously as in the Hymenoptera, it may be said that the 
whole evolution of the animal kingdom, apart from 
retrogressions towards vegetative life, has taken place 
on two divergent paths, one of which led to instinct 
and the other to intelligence. 

1 This point is disputed by M. René Quinton, who regards the car- 
nivorous and ruminant mammals, as well as certain birds, as subsequent 
to man (R. Quinton, L’Eau de mer milieu organique, Paris, 1904, p. 435). 
We may say here that our general conclusions, although very different from 
M. Quinton’s, are not irreconcilable with them ; for if evolution has really 
been such as we represent it, the vertebrates must have made an effort 
to maintain themselves in the most favourable conditions of activity— 
the very conditions, indeed, which life had chosen in the beginning. 


Vegetative torpor, instinct, and intelligence—these, 
then, are the elements that coincided in the vital im- 
pulsion common to plants and animals, and which, 
in the course of a development in which they were 
made manifest in the most unforeseen forms, have 
been dissociated by the very fact of their growth. The 
cardinal error which, from Aristotle onwards, has vitiated 
most of the philosophies of nature, 1s to see in vegetative, 
instinctive and rational life, three successive degrees of the 
development of one and the same tendency, whereas they 
are three divergent directions of an activity that has spli 
up as it grew. ‘Lhe difference between them is not a 

difference of intensity, nor, more generally, of degree, 
but of kind. \ 

It is important to investigate this point. We have 
seen in the case of vegetable and animal life how they 
are at once mutually complementary and mutually 
antagonistic. Now we must show that intelligence and 
instinct also are opposite and complementary. But 
let us first explain why we are generally led to regard 
them as activities of which one is superior to the other 
and based upon it, whereas in reality they are not things 
of the same order: they have not succeeded one 
another, nor can we assign to them different grades. 

It is because intelligence and instinct, having origin- 
ally been interpenetrating, retain something of their 
common origin. Neither is ever found ina pure state. 
We said that in the plant the consciousness and mobility 
of the animal, which lie dormant, can be awakened ; and 
that the animal lives under the constant menace of being 
drawn aside to the vegetative life. The two tendencies 
—that of the plant and that of the animal—were so 
thoroughly interpenetrating, to begin with, that there has 


never been a complete severance between them: they 
haunt each other continually ; everywhere we find them 
mingled ; itis the proportion that differs. So with in- 
telligence and instinct. There is no intelligence in which 
some traces of instinct are not to be discovered, more 
especially no instinct that is not surrounded with a 
fringe of intelligence. It is this fringe of intelligence 
that has been the cause of so many misunderstandings. 
From the fact that instinct is always more or less 
intelligent, it has been concluded that instinct and 
intelligence are things of the same kind, that there is 
only a difference of complexity or perfection between 
them, and, above all, that one of the two is expressible 
in terms of the other. In reality, they accompany each 
other only because they are complementary, and they 
are complementary only because they are different, 
what is instinctive in instinct being opposite to what 
is intelligent in intelligence. 

We are bound to dwell on this point. It is one of > 
the utmost importance. 

Let us say at the outset that the distinctions we 
are going to make will be too sharply drawn, just 
because we wish to define in instinct what is in- 
stinctive, and in intelligence what is intelligent, whereas 
all concrete instinct is mingled with intelligence, as all 
real intelligence is penetrated by instinct. Moreover, 
neither intelligence nor instinct lends itself to rigid 
definition: they are tendencies, and not things. 
Also, it must not be forgotten that in the present 
chapter we are considering intelligence and instinct 
as going out of life which deposits them along its 
course. Now the life manifested by an organism 
is, in our view, a certain effort to obtain certain 
things from the material world. No wonder, there- 


fore, if it is the diversity of this effort that strikes us in 
instinct and intelligence, and if we see in these two 
modes of psychical activity, above all else, two different 
methods of action on inert matter. This rather narrow 
view of them has the advantage of giving us an 
objective means of distinguishing them. In return, 
however, it gives us, of intelligence in general and of 
instinct in general, only the mean position above and 
below which both constantly oscillate. For that reason 
the reader must expect to see in what follows only a 
diagrammatic drawing, in which the respective outlines 
of intelligence and instinct are sharper than they 
should be, and in which the shading-off which comes 
from the indecision of each and from their reciprocal 
encroachment on one another is neglected. In a 
matter so obscure, we cannot strive too hard for 
clearness. It will always be easy afterwards to soften 
the outlines and to correct what is too geometrical 
in the drawing—in short, to replace the rigidity of a 
diagram by the suppleness of life. 

To what date is it agreed to ascribe the appearance 
of man on the earth? ‘To the period when the first 
weapons, the first tools, were made. The memor- 
able quarrel over the discovery of Boucher de Perthes 
in the quarry of Moulin-Quignon is not forgotten. 
The question was whether real hatchets had been 
found or merely bits of flint accidentally broken. 
But that, supposing they were hatchets, we were indeed 
in the presence of intelligence, and more particularly 
of human intelligence, no one doubted for an instant. 
Now let us open a collection of anecdotes on the in- 
telligzence of animals: we shall see that besides many 
acts explicable by imitation or by the automatic associa- 


tion of images, there are some that we do not hesitate 
to call intelligent : foremost among them are those that 
bear witness to some idea of manufacture, whether the 
animal itself succeeds in fashioning a crude instrument 
or uses for its profit an object made by man. The 
animals that rank immediately after man in the matter 
of intelligence, the apes and elephants, are those that 
can use an artificial instrument occasionally. Below, 
but not very far from them, come those that recognize 
a constructed object: for example, the fox, which 
knows quite well thatatrapisatrap. No doubt, there is 
intelligence wherever there is inference ; but inference, 
which consists in an inflection of past experience in the 
direction of present experience, is already a beginning 
of invention. Invention becomes complete when it is 
materialized in a manufactured instrument. Towards 
that achievement the intelligence of animals tends as 
towards an ideal. And though, ordinarily, it does not 
yet succeed in fashioning artificial objects and in 
making use of them, it is preparing for this by the very 
variations which it performs on the instincts furnished 
by nature. As regards human intelligence, it has not 
been sufficiently noted that mechanical invention has 
been from the first its essential feature, that even to-day 
our social life gravitates around the manufacture and 
use of artificial instruments, that the inventions which 
strew the road of progress have also traced its direction. 
This we hardly realize, because it takes us longer to 
change ourselves than to change our tools. Our in- 
dividual and even social habits survive a good while 
the circumstances for which they were made, so that 
the ultimate effects of an invention are not observed 
until its novelty is already out of sight. A century 

has elapsed since the invention of the steam-engine, 


and we are only just beginning to feel the depths of 
the shock it gave us. But the revolution it has 
effected in industry has nevertheless upset human 
relations altogether. New ideas are arising, new feel- 
ings are on the way to flower. In thousands of years, 
when, seen from the distance, only the broad lines of 
the present age will still be visible, our wars and our 
revolutions will count for little, even supposing they 
are remembered at all; but the steam-engine, and 
the procession of inventions of every kind that accom- 
panied it, will perhaps be spoken of as we speak 
of the bronze or of the chipped stone of pre- 
historic times: it will serve to define an age.’ If 
we could rid ourselves of all pride, if, to define 
our species, we kept strictly to what the historic 
and the prehistoric periods show us to be the constant 
characteristic of man and of intelligence, we should say 
perhaps not Homo sapiens, but Homo faber. In short, 
intelligence, considered in what seems to be its original 
feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, 
especially tools to make tools, and of indefinitely varying 
the manufacture. 

Now, does an unintelligent animal also possess tools 
or machines? Yes, certainly, but here the instrument 
forms a part of the body that uses it; and, corre- 
sponding to this instrument, there is an instinct that 
knows how to use it. True, it cannot be maintained 
that a// instincts consist in a natural ability to use an 
inborn mechanism. Such a definition would not apply 
to the instincts which Romanes called “secondary” ; 
and more than one “ primary” instinct would not 

1M. Paul Lacombe has laid great stress on the important influence 
that great inventions have exercised on the evolution of humanity (P. 
Lacombe, De Phistotre considérée comme science, Paris, 1894. See, in 
particular, pp. 168-247). 


come under it. But this definition, like that which we 
have provisionally given of intelligence, determines at 
least the ideal limit toward which the very numerous 
forms of instinct are travelling. Indeed, it has often 
been pointed out that most instincts are only the con- 
tinuance, or rather the consummation, of the work of 
organization itself. Where does the activity of instinct 
begin? and where does that of nature end? We 
cannot tell. In the metamorphoses of the larva into 
the nymph and into the perfect insect, metamorphoses 
that often require appropriate action and a kind of 
initiative on the part of the larva, there is no sharp line 
of demarcation between the instinct of the animal and 
the organizing work of living matter. We may 
say, as we will, either that instinct organizes the 
instruments it is about to use, or that the process of 
organization is continued in the instinct that has to use 
the organ. The most marvellous instincts of the insect 
do nothing but develop its special structure into move- 
ments: indeed, where social life divides the labour 
among different individuals and thus allots them differ- 
ent instincts, a corresponding difference of structure is 
observed: the polymorphism of ants, bees, wasps and 
certain pseudoneuroptera is well known. Thus, if we 
consider only those typical cases in which the complete 
triumph of intelligence and of instinct is seen, we. 
find this essential difference between them: instinct 
perfected is a faculty of using and even of constructing 
organized instruments ; intelligence perfected 1s the faculty 
of making and using unorganized instruments. | 

The advantages and drawbacks of these two modes — 
of activity are obvious. Instinct finds the appropriate 
instrument at hand: this instrument, which makes 
and repairs itself, which presents, like all the works of 


nature, an infinite complexity of detail combined with a 
marvellous simplicity of function, does at once, when 
required, what it is called upon to do, without difficulty 
and with a perfection that is often wonderful. In 
return, it retains an almost invariable structure, since a 
modification of it involves a modification of the species. 
Instinct is therefore necessarily specialized, being 
nothing but the utilization of a specific instrument for 
a specific object. The instrument constructed in- 
telligently, on the contrary, is an imperfect instrument. 
It costs an effort. It is generally troublesome to 
handle. But, as it is made of unorganized matter, it 
can take any form whatsoever, serve any purpose, free 
the living being from every new difficulty that arises and 
bestow on it an unlimited number of powers. Whilst 
it is inferior to the natural instrument for the satisfac- 
tion of immediate wants, its advantage over it is the 
greater, the less urgent the need. Above all, it reacts 
on the nature of the being that constructs it; for in 
calling on him to exercise a new function, it confers on 
him, so to speak, a richer organization, being an artificial 
organ by which the natural organism is extended. 
For every need that it satisfies, it creates a new need ; 
and so, instead of closing, like instinct, the round of 
action within which the animal tends to move auto- 
matically, it lays open to activity an unlimited field 
into which it is driven further and further, and made 
more and more free. But this advantage of intelli- 
gence over instinct only appears at a late stage, when 
intelligence, having raised construction to a higher 
degree, proceeds to construct constructive machinery. 
At the outset, the advantages and drawbacks of 
the artificial instrument and of the natural instru- 
ment balance so well that it is hard to foretell which 


of the two will secure to the living being the greater 
empire over nature. 

We may surmise that they began by being implied 
in each other, that the original psychical activity 
included both at once, and that, if we went far enough 
back into the past, we should find instincts more nearly 
approaching intelligence than those of our insects, in- 
telligence nearer to instinct than that of our vertebrates, 
intelligence and instinct being, in this elementary con- 
dition, prisoners of a matter which they are not yet able 
to control. If the force immanent in life were an un- 
limited force, it might perhaps have developed instinct 
and intelligence together, and to any extent, in the same 
organisms. But everything seems to indicate that this 
force is limited, and that it soon exhausts itself in its 
very manifestation. It is hard for it to go far in several 
directions at once: it must choose. Now, it has the 
choice between two modes of acting on the material 
world : it can either effect this action directly by creating 
an organized instrument to work with; or else it can 
effect it indirectly through an organism which, instead of 
possessing the required instrument naturally, will itself 
construct it by fashioning inorganic matter. Hence in- 
telligence and instinct, which diverge more and more as 
they develop, but which never entirely separate from each 
other. On the one hand, the most perfect instinct of the 
insect is accompanied by gleams of intelligence, if only 
in the choice of place, time and materials of construction: 
the bees, for example, when by exception they build in 
the open air, invent new and really intelligent arrange- 
ments to adapt themselves to such new conditions.’ But, 
an the other hand, intelligence has even more need of 

1 Bouvier, “La Nidification des abeilles a lair libre” (C.R. de lAc. des 
Sciences, 7 mai 1906), 


instinct than instinct has of intelligence ; for the power 
to give shape to crude matter involves already a superior 
degree of organization, a degree to which the animal 
could not have risen, save on the wings of instinct. So, 
while nature has frankly evolved in the direction of 
instinct in the arthropods, we observe in almost all the 
vertebrates the striving after rather than the expansion 
of intelligence. It is instinct still which forms the basis 
of their psychical activity ; but intelligence is there, and 
would fain supersede it. Intelligence does not yet 
succeed in inventing instruments ; but at least it tries to, 
by performing as many variations as possible on the 
instinct which it would like to dispense with. It gains 
complete self-possession only in man, and this triumph 
is attested by the very insufficiency of the natural means 
at man’s disposal for defence against his enemies, against 
cold and hunger. ‘This insufficiency, when we strive to 
fathom its significance, acquires the value of a pre- 
historic document ; it is the final leave-taking between 
intelligence and instinct. But it is no less true that 
nature must have hesitated between two modes of 
psychical activity—one assured of immediate success, 
but limited in its effects; the other hazardous, but 
whose conquests, if it should reach independence, 
might be extended indefinitely. Here again, then, the 
greatest success was achieved on the side of the greatest 
risk. Instinct and intelligence therefore represent two 
divergent solutions, equally fitting, of one and the same 

There ensue, it is true, profound differences of 
internal structure between instinct and intelligence. 
We shall dwell only on those that concern our present 
study. Let us say, then, that instinct and intelligence 
imply two radically different kinds of knowledge. But 


some explanations are first of all necessary on the 
subject of consciousness in general. 

It has been asked how far instinct is conscious. 
- Our reply is that there are a vast number of differences 
and degrees, that instinct is more or less conscious in 
certain cases, unconscious in others. The plant, as we 
shall see, has instincts; it is not likely that these are 
accompanied by feeling. Even in the animal there is 
hardly any complex instinct that 1s not unconscious in 
some part at least of its exercise. But here we must 
point out a difference, not often noticed, between two 
kinds of unconsciousness, viz., that in which conscious- 
ness is absent, and that in which consciousness is nullified. 
Both are equal to zero, but in one case the zero expresses 
the fact that there is nothing, in the other that we 
have two equal quantities of opposite sign which com- 
pensate and neutralize each other. The unconsciousness 
of a falling stone is of the former kind: the stone 
has no feeling of its fall. Is it the same with the 
unconsciousness of instinct, in the extreme cases in 
which instinct is unconscious? When we mechanically 
perform an habitual action, when the somnambulist 
automatically acts his dream, unconsciousness may be 
absolute ; but this is merely due to the fact that the 
representation of the act is held in check by the per- 
formance of the act itself, which resembles the idea so 
perfectly, and fits it so exactly, that consciousness is 
unable to find room between them. Representation is 
stopped up by action. ‘The proof of this is, that if the 
accomplishment of the act is arrested or thwarted by an — 
obstacle, consciousness may reappear. It was there, 
but neutralized by the action which fulfilled and 
thereby filled the representation. The obstacle creates 
nothing positive ; it simply makes a void, removes a 


stopper. This inadequacy of act to representation is 
precisely what we here call consciousness. 

If we examine this point more closely, we shall find 
that consciousness is the light that plays around the 
zone of possible actions or potential activity which 
surrounds the action really performed by the living 
being. It signifies hesitation or choice. Where many 
equally possible actions are indicated without there 
being any real action (as in a deliberation that has not 
come to an end), consciousness is intense. Where the 
action performed is the only action possible (as in 
activity of the somnambulistic or more generally auto- 
matic kind), consciousness is reduced to nothing. Re- 
presentation and knowledge exist none the less in the 
case if we find a whole series of systematized movements 
the last of which is already prefigured in the first, and 
if, besides, consciousness can flash out of them at the 
shock of an obstacle. From this point of view, she 
consciousness of a living being may be defined as an 
arithmetical difference between potential and real activity. 
It measures the interval between representation and action. 

It may be inferred from this that intelligence is 
likely to point towards consciousness, and instinct 
toward unconsciousness. For, where the implement to 
be used is organized by nature, the material furnished 
by nature, and the result to be obtained willed by nature, 
there is little left to choice : the consciousness inherent 
in the representation is therefore counterbalanced, when- 
ever it tends to disengage itself, by the performance of 
the act, identical with the representation, which forms its 
counter-weight. Where consciousness appears, it does 
not so much light up the instinct itself as the thwart- 
ings to which instinct is subject; it is the deficit of 
instinct, the distance between the act and the idea, that 


becomes consciousness, so that consciousness, here, 
is only an accident. Essentially, consciousness only 
emphasizes the starting-point of instinct, the point at 
which the whole series of automatic movements is 
released. Deficit, on the contrary, is the normal state 
of intelligence. Labouring under difficulties is its very 
essence. Its original function being to construct 
unorganized instruments, it must, in spite of number- 
less difficulties, choose for this work the place and the 
time, the form and the matter. And it can never satisfy 
itself entirely, because every new satisfaction creates 
new needs. In short, while instinct and intelligence 
both involve knowledge, this knowledge is rather acted 
and unconscious in the case of instinct, thought and 
conscious in the case of intelligence. But it is a 
difference rather of degree than of kind. So long as 
consciousness is all we are concerned with, we close 
our eyes to what is, from the psychological point 
of view, the cardinal difference between instinct and 

In order to get at this essential difference we must, 
without stopping at the more or less brilliant light which 
illumines these two modes of internal activity, go 
straight to the two odjects, profoundly different from 
each other, upon which instinct and intelligence are 

When the horse-fly lays its eggs on the legs or 
shoulders of the horse, it acts as if it knew that its 
larva has to develop in the horse’s stomach and that 
the horse, in licking itself, will convey the larva into 
its digestive tract. When a paralysing wasp stings its 
victim on just those points where the nervous centres 
lie, so as to render it motionless without killing it, 
it acts like a learned entomologist and a skilful surgeon 


rolled into one. But what shall we say of the little 
beetle, the Sitaris, whose story is so often quoted? 
This insect lays its eggs at the entrance of the under- 
ground passages dug by a kind of bee, the Anthophora. 
Its larva, after long waiting, springs upon the male 
Anthophora as it goes out of the passage, clings to 
it, and remains attached until the “nuptial flight,” 
when it seizes the opportunity to pass from the male 
to the female, and quietly waits until it lays its eggs. 
It then leaps on the egg, which serves as a support 
for it in the honey, devours the egg in a few days, 
and, resting on the shell, undergoes its first meta- 
morphosis. Organized now to float on the honey, 
it consumes this provision of nourishment, and _ be- 
comes a nymph, then a perfect insect. Everything 
happens as if the larva of the Sitaris, from the 
moment it was hatched, knew that the male Antho- 
phora would first emerge from the passage ; that the 
nuptial flight would give it the means of conveying 
itself to the female, who would take it to a store of 
honey sufficient to feed it after its transformation ; 
that, until this transformation, it could gradually 
eat the egg of the Anthophora, in such a way that 
it could at the same time feed itself, maintain itself 
at the surface of the honey, and also suppress the 
rival that otherwise would have come out of the egg. 
And equally all this happens as if the Sitaris itself 
knew that its larva would know all these things. 
The knowledge, if knowledge there be, is only im- 
plicit. It is reflected outwardly in exact movements 
instead of being reflected inwardly in consciousness. 
It is none the less true that the behaviour of the insect 
involves, or rather evolves, the idea of definite things 
existing or being produced in definite points of space 


and time, which the insect knows without having 
learned them. 

Now, if we look at intelligence from the same point 
of view, we find that it also knows certain things with- 
out having learned them. But the knowledge in the 
two cases is of a very different order. We must be 
careful here not to revive again the old philosophical 
dispute on the subject of innate ideas. So we will 
confine ourselves to the point on which every one is 
agreed, to wit, that the young child understands im- 
mediately things that the animal will never understand, 
and that in this sense intelligence, like instinct, is an 
inherited function, therefore an innate one. But this 
innate intelligence, although it is a faculty of knowing, 
knows no object in particular. When the new-born babe 
seeks for the first time its mother’s breast, so showing 
that it has knowledge (unconscious, no doubt) of a thing 
it has never seen, we say, just because the innate 
knowledge is in this case of a definite object, that it 
belongs to instinct and not to ineelligence.  Intelli- 
gence does not then imply the innate knowledge of 
any object. And yet, if intelligence knows nothing 
by nature, it has nothing innate. What, then, if 
it be ignorant of all things, can it know? Besides 
things, there are relations. ‘The new-born child, so 
far as intelligent, knows neither definite objects nor 
a definite property of any object ; but when, a little 
later on, he will hear an epithet being applied to a sub- 
stantive, he will immediately understand what it means. 
The relation of attribute to subject is therefore seized 
by him naturally, and the same might be said of the 
general relation expressed by the verb, a relation so im- 
mediately conceived by the mind that language can leave 
it to be understood, as is instanced in rudimentary 


languages which have no verb. Intelligence, therefore, 
naturally makes use of relations of like with like, of 
content to container, of cause to effect, etc., which 
are implied in every phrase in which there is a 
subject, an attribute and a verb, expressed or under- 
stood. May one say that it has innate knowledge 
of each of these relations in particular? It is for 
logicians to discover whether they are so many 
irreducible relations, or whether they can be resolved 
into relations still more general. But, in whatever 
way we make the analysis of thought, we always end 
with one or several general categories, of which the 
mind possesses innate knowledge since it makes a 
natural use of them. Let us say, therefore, that what- 
ever, in instinct and intelligence, is innate knowledge, bears 
in the first case on things and in the second on relations. 
Philosophers distinguish between the matter of our 
knowledge and its form. The matter is what is given 
by the perceptive faculties taken in the elementary state. 
The form is the totality of the relations set up between 
these materials in order to constitute a systematic know- 
ledge. Can the form, without matter, be an object of 
knowledge ? Yes, without doubt, provided that this 
knowledge is not like a thing we possess so much as 
like a habit we have contracted,—a direction rather 
than a state: it is, if we will, a certain natural bent of 
attention. The schoolboy, who knows that the master 
is going to dictate a fraction to him, draws a line before 
he knows what numerator and what denominator are to 
come ; he therefore has present to his mind the general 
relation between the two terms although he does not 
know either of them ; he knows the form without the 
matter. So is it, prior to experience, with the categories 
into which our experience comes to be inserted. Let us 



adopt then words sanctioned by usage, and give the 
distinction between intelligence and instinct this more 
precise formula: Intelligence, in so far as tt 1s innate, 1s the 
knowledge of a form ; instinct implies the knowledge of a 

From this second point of view, which is that of 
knowledge instead of action, the force immanent in life 
in general appears to us again as a limited principle, in 
which originally two different and even divergent 
modes of knowing coexisted and intermingled. The first 
gets at definite objects immediately, in their materiality 
itself. It says, “This is what is.” The second gets 
at no object in particular; it is only a natural power 
of relating an object to an object, or a part to a part, or 
an aspect to an aspect—in short, of drawing conclusions 
when in possession of the premisses, of proceeding from 
what has been learnt to what is still unknown. It 
does not say, “This zs’’; it says only that “7f the 
conditions are such, such will be the conditioned.” 
In short, the first kind of knowledge, the in- 
stinctive, would be formulated in what philosophers 
call categorical propositions, while the second kind, 
the intellectual, would always be expressed hAypothetic- 
ally, Of these two faculties, the former seems, at 
first, much preferable to the other. And it would be 
so, in truth, if it extended to an endless number of 
objects. But, in fact, it applies only to one special 
object, and indeed only toa restricted part of that object. 
Of this, at least, its knowledge is intimate and full ; 
not explicit, but implied in the accomplished action. 
The intellectual faculty, on the contrary, possesses 
naturally only an external and empty knowledge ; but 
it has thereby the advantage of supplying a frame in 
which an infinity of objects may find room in turn. It 


is as if the force evolving in living forms, being a 
limited force, had had to choose between two kinds of 
limitation in the field of natural or innate knowledge, 
one applying to the extension of knowledge, the other to 
its intension. In the first case, the knowledge may 
be packed and full, but it will then be confined to one 
specific object ; in the second, it is no longer limited 
by its object, but that is because it contains nothing, 
being only a form without matter. The two tend- 
encies, at first implied in each other, had to separate 
in order to grow. They both went to seek their 
fortune in the world, and turned out to be instinct 
and intelligence. 

Such, then, are the two divergent modes of 
knowledge by which intelligence and instinct must be 
defined, from the standpoint of knowledge rather than 
that of action. But knowledge and action are here 
only two aspects of one and the same faculty. It is 
easy to see, indeed, that the second definition is only a 
new form of the first. 

If instinct is, above all, the faculty of using an 
organized natural instrument, it must involve innate 
knowledge (potential or unconscious, it is true) both of 
this instrument and of the object to which it 1s applied. 
Instinct is therefore innate knowledge of a thing. But 
intelligence is the faculty of constructing unorganized 
—that is to say artificial—instruments. If, on its 
account, nature gives up endowing the living being 
with the instrument that may serve him, it is in order 
that the living being may be able to vary his construction 
according to circumstances. The essential function of 
intelligence is therefore to see ‘the way out of a difficulty 
in any circumstances whatever, to find what 1s most suit- 
able, what answers best the question asked. Hence it 


bears essentially on the relations between a given 
situation and the means of utilizing it. What is innate 
in intellect, therefore, is the tendency to establish 
relations, and this tendency implies the natural know- 
ledge of certain very general relations, a kind of stuff 
that the activity of each particular intellect will cut up 
into more special relations. Where activity is directed 
toward manufacture, therefore, knowledge necessarily 
bears on relations. But this entirely forma/ knowledge 
of intelligence has an immense advantage over the 
material knowledge of instinct. A form, just because 
it is empty, may be filled at will with any number of 
things in turn, even with those that are of no use. So 
that a formal knowledge is not limited to what is 
practically useful, although it is in view of practical 
utility that it has made its appearance in the world. 
An intelligent being bears within himself the means 
to transcend his own nature. 

He transcends himself, however, less than he wishes, 
less also than he imagines himself to do. The purely 
formal character of intelligence deprives it of the ballast 
necessary to enable it to settle itself on the objects that 
are of the most powerful interest to speculation. 
Instinct, on the contrary, has the desired materiality, 
but it is incapable of going so far in quest of its object ; 
it does not speculate. Here we reach the point that 
most concerns our present inquiry. The difference 
that we shall now proceed to denote between instinct 
and intelligence is what the whole of this analysis was 
meant to bring out. We formulate it thus: There 
are things that intelligence alone is able to seek, 
but which, by itself, it will never find. These - 
things instinct alone could find; but it will never seek 


It is necessary here to consider some preliminary 
details that concern the mechanism of intelligence. We 
have said that the function of intelligence is to 
establish relations. Let us determine more precisely 
the nature of these relations. On this point we are 
bound to be either vague or arbitrary so long as we 
see in the intellect a faculty intended for pure 
speculation. We are then reduced to taking the 
general frames of the understanding for something 
absolute, irreducible and inexplicable. The under- 
standing must have fallen from heaven with its 
form, as each of us is born with his face. This form 
may be defined, of course, but that is all; there is no 
asking why it is what it is rather than anything else. 
Thus, it will be said that the function of the intellect is 
essentially unification, that the common object of all its 
operations is to introduce a certain unity into the 
diversity of phenomena, and so forth. But, in the first 
place, “unification” is a vague term, less clear than 
“relation” or even “ thought,” and says nothing more. 
And, moreover, it might be asked if the function of 
intelligence is not to divide even more than to unite. 
Finally, if the intellect proceeds as it does because it 
wishes to unite, and if it seeks unification simply because 
it has need of unifying, the whole of our knowledge 
becomes relative to certain requirements of the mind 
that probably might have been entirely different from 
what they are: for an intellect differently shaped, 
knowledge would have been different. Intellect being 
no longer dependent on anything, everything becomes 
dependent on it ; and so, having placed the understand- 
ing too high, we end by putting too low the knowledge 
it gives us. Knowledge becomes relative as soon as 
the intellect is made a kind of absolute-—We regard the 


human intellect, on the contrary, as relative to the needs 
of action. Postulate action, and the very form of the 
intellect can be deduced from it. This form is therefore 
neither irreducible nor inexplicable. And, precisely 
because it is not independent, knowledge cannot be said 
to depend on it: knowledge ceases to be a product of 
the intellect and becomes, in a certain sense, part and 
parcel of reality. 

Philosophers will reply that action takes place in an 
ordered world, that this order is itself thought, and 
that we beg the question when we explain the intellect 
by action, which presupposes it. They would be right 
if our point of view in the present chapter was to be 
our final one. We should then be dupes of an illusion 
like that of Spencer, who believed that the intellect is 
sufficiently explained as the impression left on us by 
the general characters of matter: as if the order in- 
herent in matter were not intelligence itself! But we 
reserve for the next chapter the question up to what 
point and with what method philosophy can attempt 
a real genesis of the intellect at the same time as of 
matter. For the moment, the problem that engages 
our attention is of a psychological order. We are 
asking what is the portion of the material world to 
which our intellect is specially adapted. To reply to 
this question, there is no need to choose a system of 
philosophy : it is enough to take up the point of view 
of common sense. 

Let us start, then, from action, and lay down that 
the intellect aims, first of all, at constructing. This 
fabrication is exercised exclusively on inert matter, 
in this sense, that even if it makes use of organized 
material, it treats it as inert, without troubling about 

the life which animated it. And of inert matter 


itself, fabrication deals only with the solid; the rest 
escapes by its very fluidity. If, therefore, the tendency 
of the intellect is to fabricate, we may expect to find 
that whatever is fluid in the real will escape it in part, 
and whatever is life in the living will escape it 
altogether. Our intelligence, as it leaves the hands of 
nature, has for its chief object the unorganized solid. 
When we pass in review the intellectual functions, 
we see that the intellect is never quite at its ease, 
never entirely at home, except when it is working upon 
inert matter, more particularly upon solids. What is 
the most general property of the material world? It 
is extended : it presents to us objects external to other 
objects, and, in these objects, parts external to parts. 
No doubt, it is useful to us, in view of our ulterior 
manipulation, to regard each object as divisible into 
parts arbitrarily cut up, each part being again divisible 
as we like, and so on ad infinitum. But it is above all 
necessary, for our present manipulation, to regard the 
real object in hand, or the real elements into which 
we have resolved it, as provisionally final, and to 
treat them as so many units. To this possibility of 
decomposing matter as much as we please, and in any 
way we please, we allude when we speak of the 
continuity of material extension ; but this continuity, as 
we see it, is nothing else but our ability, an ability that 
matter allows to us to choose the mode of discontinuity 
we shall find in it. It is always, in fact, the mode of 
discontinuity once chosen that appears to us as the 
actually real one and that which fixes our attention, 
just because it rules our action. Thus discontinuity 
is thought for itself; it is thinkable in itself ; we form 
an idea of it by a positive act of our mind; while the 
intellectual representation of continuity is negative, 


being, at bottom, only the refusal of our mind, before 
any actually given system of decomposition, to regard 
it as the only possible one. Of the discontinuous alone 
does the intellect form a clear idea. 

On the other hand, the objects we act on are cer- 
tainly mobile objects, but the important thing for us to 
know is whither the mobile object is going and where 
it is at any moment of its passage. In other words, our 
interest is directed, before all, to its actual or future 
positions, and not to the progress by which it passes 
from one position to another, progress which 1s the 
movement itself. In our actions, which are systematized 
movements, what we fix our mind on is the end or 
meaning of the movement, its design as a whole—in 
a word, the immobile plan of its execution. That 
which really moves in action interests us only so far as 
the whole can be advanced, retarded, or stopped by 
any incident that may happen on the way. From 
mobility itself our intellect turns aside, because it has 
nothing to gain in dealing with it. If the intellect were 
meant for pure theorizing, it would take its place 
within movement, for movement is reality itself, and 
immobility is always only apparent or relative. But 
the intellect is meant for something altogether different. 
Unless it does violence to itself, it takes the opposite 
course ; it always starts from immobility, as if this 
were the ultimate reality: when it tries to form an 
idea of movement, it does so by constructing movement 
out of immobilities put together. This operation, 
whose illegitimacy and danger in the field of specula- 
tion we shall show later on (it leads to dead-locks, 
and creates artificially insoluble philosophical problems), 
is easily justified when we refer it to its proper goal. 
Intelligence, in its natural state, aims at a practically 


useful end. When it substitutes for movement im- 
mobilities put together, it does not pretend to recon- 
stitute the movement such as it actually is; it merely 
replaces it with a practical equivalent. It is the 
philosophers who are mistaken when they import into 
the domain of speculation a method of thinking which 
is made for action. But of this more anon. Suffice it 
now to say that to the stable and unchangeable our 
intellect is attached by virtue of its natural disposition. 
Of immobility alone does the intellect form a clear idea. 
Now, fabricating consists in carving out the form 
of an object in matter. What is the most important is 
the form to be obtained. As to the matter, we choose 
that which is most convenient ; but, in order to choose 
it, that is to say, in order to go and seek it among 
many others, we must have tried, in imagination at 
least, to endow every kind of matter with the form of 
the object conceived. In other words, an intelligence 
which aims at fabricating is an intelligence which never 
stops at the actual form of things nor regards it as final, 
but, on the contrary, looks upon all matter as if it were 
carvable at will. Plato compares the good dialectician 
to the skilful cook who carves the animal without 
breaking its bones, by following the articulations marked 
out by nature. An intelligence which always proceeded 
thus would really be an intelligence turned toward 
speculation. But action, and in particular fabrication, 
requires the opposite mental tendency: it makes us 
consider every actual form of things, even the form of 
natural things, as artificial and provisional ; it makes 
our thought efface from the object perceived, even 
though organized and living, the lines that outwardly 
mark its inward structure; in short, it makes us 
1 Plato, Phaedrus, 265 E. 


regard its matter as indifferent to its form. The 
whole of matter is made to appear to our thought 
as an immense piece of cloth in which we can cut 
out what we will and sew it together again as we 
please. Let us note, in passing, that it is this power 
that we affirm when we say that there is a space, that 
is to say, a homogeneous and empty medium, infinite 
and infinitely divisible, lending itself indifferently to any 
mode of decomposition whatsoever. A medium of this 
kind is never perceived ; it is only conceived. What 
is perceived is extension coloured, resistant, divided 
according to the lines which mark out the boundaries of 
real bodies or of their real elements. But when we think 
of our power over this matter, that is to say, of our faculty 
of decomposing and recomposing it as we please, we 
project the whole of these possible decompositions and 
recompositions behind real extension in the form of a 
homogeneous space, empty and indifferent, which is 
supposed to underlie it. This space is therefore, pre- 
eminently, the plan of our possible action on things, 
although, indeed, things have a natural tendency, as we 
shall explain further on, to enter into a frame of this 
kind. It is a view taken by mind. The animal has 
probably no idea of it, even when, like us, it perceives ex- 
tended things. Itisan idea that symbolizes the tendency 
of the human intellect to fabrication. But this point 
must not detain us now. Suffice it to say that the intellect 
ts characterized by the unlimited power of decomposing 
according to any law and of recomposing into any system. 
We have now enumerated a few of the essential 
features of human intelligence. But we have hitherto 
considered the individual in isolation, without taking 
account of social life. In reality, man is a being who 
lives in society. If it be true that the human intellect 


aims at fabrication, we must add that, for that as well 
as for other purposes, it is associated with other 
intellects. Now, it is difficult to imagine a society 
whose members do not communicate by signs. Insect 
societies probably have a language, and this language 
must be adapted, like that of man, to the necessities of 
life in common. By language community of action is 
made possible. But the requirements of joint action 
are not at all the same in a colony of ants and ina 
human society. In insect societies there is generally 
polymorphism, the subdivision of labour is natural, 
and each individual 1s riveted by its structure to the 
function it performs. In any case, these societies are 
based on instinct, and consequently on certain actions 
or fabrications that are more or less dependent on the 
form of the organs. So if the ants, for instance, have 
a language, the signs which compose it must be very 
limited in number, and each of them, once the species 
is formed, must remain invariably attached to a ce: ‘ain 
object or a certain operation: the sign is adherent to 
the thing signified. In human society, on the con- 
trary, fabrication and action are of variable form, and, 
moreover, each individual must learn his part, because 
he is not preordained to it by his structure. So a 
language is required which makes it possible to be 
always passing from what is known to what is yet 
to be known. There must be a language whose signs 
—which cannot be infinite in number—are extensible 
to an infinity of things. This tendency of the sign to 
transfer itself from one object to another is character- 
istic of human language. It is observable in the little 
child as soon as he begins to speak. Immediately 
and naturally he extends the meaning of the words 
he learns, availing himself of the most accidental con- 


nection or the most distant analogy to detach and 
transfer elsewhere the sign that had been associated in 
his hearing with a particular object. ‘ Anything can 
designate anything’’: such is the latent principle of 
infantine language. This tendency has been wrongly 
confused with the faculty of generalizing. The animals 
themselves generalize ; and, moreover, a sign—even 
an instinctive sign—always to some degree represents 
a genus. But what characterizes the signs of human 
language is not so much their generality as their 
mobility. The instinctive sign is adherent, the intelligent 
sign is mobile. 

Now, this mobility of words, that makes them able 
to pass from one thing to another, has enabled them to 
be extended from things to ideas. Certainly, language 
would not have given the faculty of reflecting to an 
intelligence entirely externalized and incapable of turn- 
ing homeward. An intelligence which reflects is one 
that originally had a surplus of energy to spend, over 
and above practically useful efforts. It is a conscious- 
ness that has virtually reconquered itself. But still the 
virtual has to become actual. Without language, in- 
tellizence would probably have remained riveted to the 
material objects which it was interested in considering. 
It would have lived in a state of somnambulism, outside 
itself, hypnotized on its own work. Language has 
greatly contributed to its liberation. The word, made 
to pass from one thing to another, is, in fact, by nature 
transferable and free. It can therefore be extended, not 
only from one perceived thing to another, but even from 
a perceived thing to a recollection of that thing, from 
the precise recollection to a more fleeting image, and 
finally from an image fleeting, though still pictured, 
to the picturing of the act by which the image is 


pictured, that is to say, to the idea. Thus is revealed 
to the intelligence, hitherto always turned outwards, a 
whole internal world—the spectacle of its own work- 
ings. It required only this opportunity, at length 
offered by language. It profits by the fact that the 
word is an external thing, which the intelligence can 
catch hold of and cling to, and at the same time an 
immaterial thing, by means of which the intelligence 
can penetrate even to the inwardness of its own work. 
Its first business was indeed to make instruments, but 
this fabrication is possible only by the employment of 
certain means which are not cut to the exact measure 
of their object, but go beyond it and thus allow intelli- 
gence a supplementary—that is to say disinterested 
work. From the moment that the intellect, reflecting 
upon its own doings, perceives itself as a creator or 
ideas, as a faculty of representation in general, there is 
no object of which it may not wish to have the idea, 
even though that object be without direct relation to 
practical action. That is why we said there are things 
that intellect alone can seek. Intellect alone, indeed, 
troubles itself about theory ; and its theory would fain 
embrace everything—not only inanimate matter, over 
which it has a natural hold, but even life and thought. 

By what means, what instruments, in short by what 
method it will approach these problems, we can easily 
guess. Originally, it was fashioned to the form of 
matter. Language itself, which has enabled it to 
extend its field of operations, is made to designate 
things, and naught but things: it is only because the 
word is mobile, because it flies from one thing to 
another, that the intellect was sure to take it, sooner or 
later, on the wing, while it was not settled on anything, 
and apply it to an object which is not a thing and 


which, concealed till then, awaited the coming of the 
word to pass from darkness to light. But the word, by 
covering up this object, again converts it into a thing. 

So intelligence, even when it no longer operates upon 

its own object, follows habits it has contracted in that 
operation: it applies forms that are indeed those of 
unorganized matter. It is made for this kind of work. 
With this kind of work alone is it fully satisfied. And 
that is what intelligence expresses by saying that thus 
only it arrives at distinctness and clearness. 

It must, therefore, in order to think itself clearly 
and distinctly, perceive itself under the form of dis- 
continuity. Concepts, in fact, are outside each other, 

‘like objects in space ; and they have the same stability 

as such objects, on which they have been modelled. 
Taken together, they constitute an “ intelligible world,” 
that resembles the world of solids in its essential char- 
acters, but whose elements are lighter, more diaphanous, 
easier for the intellect to deal with than the image of 
concrete things: they are not, indeed, the perception 
itself of things, but the representation of the act by 
which the intellect is fixed on them. They are, there- 
fore, not images, but symbols. Our logic is the 
complete set of rules that must be followed in using 
symbols. As these symbols are derived from the 
consideration of solids, as the rules for combining 
these symbols hardly do more than express the most 
general relations among solids, our logic triumphs in 
that science which takes the solidity of bodies for its 
object, that is, in geometry. Logic and geometry 
engender each other, as we shall see a little further on. 
It is from the extension of a certain natural geometry, 
suggested by the most general and immediately per- 
ceived properties of solids, that natural logic has arisen ; 


then from this natural logic, in its turn, has sprung 
scientific geometry, which extends further and further 
the knowledge of the external properties of solids.’ 
Geometry and logic are strictly applicable to matter ; 
in it they are at home, and in it they can proceed quite 
alone. But, outside this domain, pure reasoning 
needs to be supervised by common sense, which is an 
altogether different thing. 

Thus, all the elementary forces of the intellect tend 
to transform matter into an instrument of action, that 
is, in the etymological sense of the word, into an organ. 
Life, not content with producing organisms, would fain 
give them as an appendage inorganic matter itself, 
converted into an immense organ by the industry of 
the living being. Such is the initial task it assigns to 
intelligence. That is why the intellect always behaves 
as if it were fascinated by the contemplation of inert 
matter. It is life looking outward, putting itself out- 
side itself, adopting the ways of unorganized nature 
in principle, in order to direct them in fact. Hence 
its bewilderment when it turns to the living and is 
confronted with organization. It does what it can, 
it resolves the organized into the unorganized, for 
it cannot, without reversing its natural direction and 
twisting about on itself, think true continuity, real 
mobility, reciprocal penetration,—in a word, that creative 
evolution which is life. 

Consider continuity. The aspect of life that is 
accessible to our intellect—as indeed to our senses, 
of which our intellect is the extension—is that which 
offers a hold to our action. Now, to modify an 
object, we have to perceive it as divisible and dis- 
continuous. From the point of view of positive 

’ We shall return to these points in the next chapter. 


science, an incomparable progress was realized when the 
organized tissues were resolved into cells. The study 
of the cell, in its turn, has shown it to be an organism 
whose complexity seems to grow, the more thoroughly 
it is examined. The more science advances, the more 
it sees the number grow of heterogeneous elements 
which are placed together, outside each other, to make 
up a living being. Does science thus get any nearer 
to life? Does it not, on the contrary, find that what 
is really life in the living seems to recede with every 
step by which it pushes further the detail of the parts 
combined? There is indeed already among scientists 
a tendency to regard the substance of the organism 
as continuous, and the cell as an artificial entity.’ 
But, supposing this view were finally to prevail, it 
could only lead, on deeper study, to some other 
mode of analysing of the living being, and so to a 
new discontinuity—although less removed, perhaps, 
from the real continuity of life. The truth is that 
this continuity cannot be thought by the intellect while 
it follows its natural movement. It implies at once the 
multiplicity of elements and the interpenetration of 
all by all, two conditions that can hardly be reconciled 
in the field in which our industry, and consequently 
our intellect, is engaged. 

Just as we separate in space, we fix in time. The 
intellect is not made to think evo/ution, in the proper sense 
of the word—that is to say, the continuity of a change 
that is pure mobility. We shall not dwell here on this 
point, which we propose to study in a special chapter. 
Suffice it to say that the intellect represents becoming as 
a series of states, each of which is homogeneous with itself 
and consequently does not change. Is our attention 

1 We shall return to this point in chapter iii. p. 273. 


called to the internal change of one of these states? 
At once we decompose it into another series of states 
which, reunited, will be supposed to make up this 
internal modification. Each of these new states must 
be invariable, or else their internal change, if we are 
forced to notice it, must be resolved again into a fresh 
series of invariable states, and so on to infinity. Here 
again, thinking consists in reconstituting, and, natur- 
ally, it is with gzvex elements, and consequently with 
stable elements, that we reconstitute. So that, though 
we may do our best to imitate the mobility of becoming 
by an addition that is ever going on, becoming itself 
slips through our fingers just when we think we are 
holding it tight. 

Precisely because it is always trying to reconstitute, 
and to reconstitute with what is given, the intellect lets 
what is mew in each moment of a history escape. It 
does not admit the unforeseeable. It rejects all 
creation. That definite antecedents bring forth a 
definite consequent, calculable as a function of them, 
is what satisfies our intellect. That a definite end 
calls forth definite means to attain it, is what we also 
understand. In both cases we have to do with the known 
which is combined with the known, in short, with the 
old which is repeated. Our intellect is there at its ease ; 
and, whatever be the object, it will abstract, separate, 
eliminate, so as to substitute for the object itself, if 
necessary, an approximate equivalent in which things 
will happen in this way. But that each instant is a 
fresh endowment, that the new is ever upspringing, 
that the form just come into existence (although, 
when once produced, it may be regarded as an effect 
determined by its causes) could never have been 
foreseen—because the causes here, unique in their 


kind, are part of the effect, have come into existence 
with it, and are determined by it as much as they 
determine it,—all this we can feel within ourselves and 
also divine, by sympathy, outside ourselves, but we 
cannot think it, in the strict sense of the word, nor 
express it in terms of pure understanding. No 
wonder at that : we must remember what our intellect 
is meant for. The causality it seeks and finds every- 
where expresses the very mechanism of our industry, 
in which we go on recomposing the same whole with 
the same parts, repeating the same movements to obtain 
the same result. The finality it understands best is 
the finality of our industry, in which we work on a 
model given in advance, that is to say, old or com- 
posed of elements already known. As to invention 
properly so called, which is, however, the point of 
departure of industry itself, our intellect does not 
succeed in grasping it in its upspringing, that is to say, 
in its indivisibility, nor in its fervour, that is to say, 
in its creativeness. Explaining it always consists in re- 
solving it, it the unforeseeable and new, into elements 
old or known, arranged in a different order. The 
intellect can no more admit complete novelty than real 
becoming ; that is to say, here again it lets an essential 
aspect of life escape, as if it were not intended to think 
such an object. 

All our analyses bring us to this conclusion. But it 
is hardly necessary to go into such long details con- 
cerning the mechanism of intellectual working ; it is 
enough to consider the results. We see that the 
intellect, so skilful in dealing with the inert, is awkward 
the moment it touches the living. Whether it wants 
to treat the life of the body or the life of the mind, it 
proceeds with the rigour, the stiffness and the brutality 


of an instrument not designed for such use. The 
history of hygiene or of pedagogy teaches us much 
in this matter. When we think of the cardinal, 
urgent and constant need we have to preserve our 
bodies and to raise our souls, of the special facilities 
given to each of us, in this field, to experiment 
continually on ourselves and on others, of the palpable 
injury by which the wrongness of a medical or 
pedagogical practice is both made manifest and 
punished at once, we are amazed at the stupidity 
and especially at the persistence of errors. We 
may easily find their origin in the natural obstinacy 
with which we treat the living like the lifeless and 
think all reality, however fluid, under the form of 
the sharply defined solid. We are at ease only 
in the discontinuous, in the immobile, in the dead. 
The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to 
comprehend life. 

Instinct, on the contrary, is moulded-on the very 
form of life. While intelligence treats everything 
“mechanically, instinct proceeds, so to speak, organi- 
cally. If the consciousness that slumbers in it 
should awake, if it were wound up into knowledge 
instead of being wound off into action, if we could 
ask and it could reply, it would give up to us the 
most intimate secrets of life. For it only carries out 
further the work by which life organizes matter,— 
so that we cannot say, as has often been shown, 
where organization ends and where instinct begins. 
When the little chick is breaking its shell with a peck 
of its beak, it is acting by instinct, and yet it does but 
carry on the movement which has borne it through 
embryonic life. Inversely, in the course of embryonic 


life itself (especially when the embryo lives freely in 
the form of a larva), many of the acts accomplished 
must be referred to instinct. The most essential of 
the primary instincts are really, therefore, vital pro- 
cesses. The potential consciousness that accompanies 
them is generally actualized only at the outset of the 
act, and leaves the rest of the process to go on by 
itself. It would only have to expand more widely, 
and then dive into its own depth completely, to be 
one with the generative force of life. 

When we see in a living body thousands of cells 
working together to a common end, dividing the task 
between them, living each for itself at the same time 
as for the others, preserving itself, feeding itself, 
reproducing itself, responding to the menace of danger 
by appropriate defensive reactions, how can we help 
thinking of so many instincts? And yet these are the 
natural functions of the cell, the constitutive elements 
of its vitality. On the other hand, when we see the 
bees of a hive forming a system so strictly organized 
that no individual can live apart from the others beyond 
a certain time, even though furnished with food and 
shelter, how can we help recognizing that the hive 
is really, and not metaphorically, a single organism, 
of which each bee is a cell united to the others by 
invisible bonds? The instinct that animates the bee 
is indistinguishable, then, from the force that animates 
the cell, or is only a prolongation of that force. In 
extreme cases like this, instinct coincides with the work 
of organization. 

Of course there are degrees of perfection in the same 
instinct. Between the humble-bee and the honey-bee, 
for instance, the distance is great; and we pass from 
one to the other through a great number of inter- 


mediaries, which correspond to so many complications 
of the social life. But the same diversity is found 
in the functioning of histological elements belonging 
to different tissues more or less akin. In both cases 
there are manifold variations on one and the same 
theme. The constancy of the theme is manifest, 
however, and the variations only fit it to the diversity 
of the circumstances. 

Now, in both cases, in the instinct of the animal and 
in the vital properties of the cell, the same knowledge 
and the same ignorance are shown. All goes on as 
if the cell knew, of the other cells, what concerns itself ; 
as if the animal knew, of the other animals, what it 
can utilise—all else remaining in shade. It seems as 
if life, as soon as it has become bound up in a 
species, is cut off from the rest of its own work, 
save at one or two points that are of vital concern 
to the species just arisen. Is it not plain that life 
goes to work here exactly like consciousness, exactly 
like memory? We trail behind us, unawares, the 
whole of our past; but our memory pours into the 
present only the odd recollection or two that in 
some way complete our present situation. Thus the 
instinctive knowledge which one species possesses of 
another on a certain particular point has its root in the 
very unity of life, which is, to use the expression of an 
ancient philosopher, a ‘whole sympathetic to itself.” 
It is impossible to consider some of the special instincts 
of the animal and of the plant, evidently arisen in 
extraordinary circumstances, without relating them to 
those recollections, seemingly forgotten, which spring 
up suddenly under the pressure of an urgent need. 

No doubt many secondary instincts, and also many 
varieties of primary instinct, admit of a scientific ex- 


planation. Yet it is doubtful whether science, with 
its present methods of explanation, will ever succeed in 
analysing instinct completely. The reason is that 
instinct and intelligence are two divergent develop- 
ments of one and the same principle, which in the one 
case remains within itself, in the other steps out of 
itself and becomes absorbed in the utilization of inert 
matter. This gradual divergence testifies to a radical 
incompatibility, and points to the fact that it is im- 
possible for intelligence to reabsorb instinct. That 
which is instinctive in instinct cannot be expressed 
in terms of intelligence, nor, consequently, can it be 

A man born blind, who had lived among others 
born blind, could not be made to believe in the 
possibility of perceiving a distant object without first 
perceiving all the objects in between. Yet vision 
performs this miracle. In a certain sense the blind 
man is right, since vision, having its origin in the 
stimulation of the retina by the vibrations of the light, 
is nothing else, in fact, but a retinal touch. Such is 
indeed the scientific explanation, for the function of 
science is just to express all perceptions in terms of 
touch. But we have shown elsewhere that the philo- 
sophical explanation of perception (if it may still be 
called an explanation) must be of another kind.’ Now 
instinct also is a knowledge at a distance. It has the 
same relation to intelligence that vision has to touch. 
Science cannot do otherwise than express it in terms of 
intelligence ; but in so doing it constructs an imitation 
of instinct rather than penetrates within it. 

Any one can convince himself of this by studying 
the ingenious theories of evolutionist biology. They 

1 Matiére et mémoire, chap. i. 


may be reduced to two types, which are often inter- 
mingled. One type, following the principles of neo- 
Darwinism, regards instinct as a sum of accidental 
differences preserved by selection: such and such a 
useful behaviour, naturally adopted by the individual 
in virtue of an accidental predisposition of the germ, 
has been transmitted from germ to germ, waiting for 
chance to add fresh improvements to it by the same 
method. The other type regards instinct as lapsed 
intelligence : the action, found useful by the species or 
by certain of its representatives, is supposed to have 
engendered a habit, which, by hereditary transmission, 
has become an instinct. Of these two types of theory, 
the first has the advantage of being able to bring in 
hereditary transmission without raising grave objection ; 
for the accidental modification which it places at the 
origin of the instinct is not supposed to have been 
acquired by the individual, but to have been inherent 
in the germ. But, on the other hand, it is absolutely 
incapable of explaining instincts as sagacious as those 
of most insects. These instincts surely could not have 
attained, all at once, their present degree of complexity ; 
they have probably evolved ; but, in a hypothesis like 
that of the neo-Darwinians, the evolution of instinct 
could have come to pass only by the progressive 
addition of new pieces which, in some way, by happy 
accidents, came to fit into the old. Now it is evident 
that, in most cases, instinct could not have perfected 
itself by simple accretion: each new piece really re- 
quires, if all is not to be spoiled, a complete recasting 
of the whole. How could mere chance work a recast- 
ing of the kind? I agree that an accidental modifica- 
tion of the germ may be passed on hereditarily, and 
may somehow wait for fresh accidental modifications 


to come and complicate it. I agree also that natural 
selection may eliminate all those of the more compli- 
cated forms of instinct that are not fit to survive. 
Still, in order that the life of the instinct may evolve, 
complications fit to survive have to be produced. 
Now they will be produced only if, in certain cases, the 
addition of a new element brings about the correlative 
change of all the old elements. No one will maintain 
that chance could perform such a miracle: in one form 
or another we shall appeal to intelligence. We shall 
suppose that it is by an effort, more or less conscious, 
that the living being develops a higher instinct. But 
then we shall have to admit that an acquired habit can 
become hereditary, and that it does so regularly enough 
to ensure an evolution. The thing is doubtful, to put 
it mildly. Even if we could refer the instincts of 
animals to habits intelligently acquired and hereditarily 
transmitted, it is not clear how this sort of explanation 
could be extended to the vegetable world, where effort 
is never intelligent, even supposing it is sometimes 
conscious. And yet, when we see with what sureness 
and precision climbing plants use their tendrils, what 
marvellously combined manceuvres the orchids perform 
to procure their fertilization by means of insects,) how 
can we help thinking that these are so many instincts ? 

This is not saying that the theory of the neo- 
Darwinians must be altogether rejected, any more 
than that of the neo-Lamarckians. The first are 
probably right in holding that evolution takes place 
from germ to germ rather than from individual to 
individual ; the second are right in saying that at the 
origin of instinct there is an effort (although it is 

1 See the two works of Darwin, Climbing Plants and The Fertilization of 
Orchids by Lnsects. 


something quite different, we believe, from an intelligent 
effort). But the former are probably wrong when they 
make the evolution of instinct an accidental evolution, 
and the latter when they regard the effort from which 
instinct proceeds as an individual effort. The effort 
by which a species modifies its instinct, and modifies 
itself as well, must be a much deeper thing, dependent 
solely neither on circumstances nor on individuals. 
It is not purely accidental, although accident has a 
large place in it; and it does not depend solely 
on the initiative of individuals, although individuals 
collaborate in it. 

Compare the different forms of the same instinct 
in different species of Hymenoptera. The impression 
derived is not always that of an increasing complexity 
made of elements that have been added together one 
after the other. Nor does it suggest the idea of steps 
up a ladder. Rather do we think, in many cases at 
least, of the circumference of a circle, from different 
points of which these different varieties have started, 
all facing the same centre, all making an effort in that 
direction, but each approaching it only to the extent of 
its means, and to the extent also to which this central 
point has been illumined for it. In other words, instinct 
is everywhere complete, but it 1s more or less simpli- 
fied, and, above all, simplified differently. On the other 
hand, in cases where we do get the impression of an 
ascending scale, as if one and the same instinct had 
gone on complicating itself more and more in one 
direction and along a straight line, the species which 
are thus arranged by their instincts into a linear series 
are by no means always akin. Thus, the comparative 
study, in recent years, of the social instinct in the 
different apidae proves that the instinct of the meli- 


ponines is intermediary in complexity between the 
still rudimentary tendency of the humble bees and the 
consummate science of the true bees ; yet there can be 
no kinship between the bees and the meliponines.? 
Most likely, the degree of complexity of these different 
societies has nothing to do with any greater or smaller 
number of added elements. We seem rather to be 
before a musical theme, which had first been transposed, 
the theme as a whole, into a certain number of tones, 
and on which, still the whole theme, different variations 
had been played, some very simple, others very skilful. 
As to the original theme, it is everywhere and nowhere. 
It is in vain that we try to express it in terms of any 
idea: it must have been, originally, fe/t rather than 
thought. We get the same impression before the 
paralysing instinct of certain wasps. We know that 
the different species of Hymenoptera that have this 
paralysing instinct lay their eggs in spiders, beetles or 
caterpillars, which, having first been subjected by the 
wasp to a skilful surgical operation, will go on living 
motionless a certain number of days, and thus provide 
the larvae with fresh meat. In the sting which they 
give to the nerve-centres of their victim, in order to 
destroy its power of moving without killing it, these 
different species of Hymenoptera take into account, so 
to speak, the different species of prey they respectively 
attack. The Scolia, which attacks a larva of the rose- 
beetle, stings it in one point only, but in this point 
the motor ganglia are concentrated, and those ganglia 
alone : the stinging of other ganglia might cause death 
and putrefaction, which it must avoid.2 The yellow- 

1 Buttel-Reepen, “ Die phylogenetische Entstehung des Bienenstaates ™ 
(Biol. Centralblatt, xxili., 1903, p. 108 in particular). 
2 Fabre, Souvenirs entomologiques, 3° série, Paris, 1890, pp. 1-69. 


winged Sphex, which has chosen the cricket for its 
victim, knows that the cricket has three nerve-centres 
which serve its three pairs of legs—or at least it acts as 
if it knew this. It stings the insect first under the 
neck, then behind the prothorax, and then where the 
thorax joins the abdomen." The Ammophila Hirsuta 
gives nine successive strokes of its sting upon nine 
nerve-centres of its caterpillar, and then seizes the head 
and squeezes it in its mandibles, enough to cause 
paralysis without death. The general theme is “the 
necessity of paralysing without killing” ; the variations 
are subordinated to the structure of the victim on 
which they are played. No doubt the operation is not 
always perfect. It has recently been shown that the 
Ammophila sometimes kills the caterpillar instead of 
paralysing it, that sometimes also it paralyses it incom- 
pletely. But, because instinct is, like intelligence, 
fallible, because it also shows individual deviations, it 
does not at all follow that the instinct of the Ammo- 
phila has been acquired, as has been claimed, by tenta- 
tive intelligent experiments. Even supposing that the 
Ammophila has come in course of time to recognize, 
one after another, by tentative experiment, the points 
of its victim which must be stung to render it motion- 
less, and also the special treatment that must be 
inflicted on the head to bring about paralysis without 
death, how can we imagine that elements so special of 
a knowledge so precise have been regularly transmitted, 
one by one, by heredity? If, in all our present ex- 
perience, there were a single indisputable example of a 
transmission of this kind, the inheritance of acquired 

1 Fabre, Souvenirs entomologiques, 17 série, 3° édition, Paris, 1894, pp. 
93 ff. 

@ Fabre, Nouveaux souvenirs entomologicues, Paris, 1882, pp. 14 ff. 

8 Peckham, Wasps, Solitary and Social, Westminster, 1905, pp. 28 ff. 


characters would be questioned by no one. As a 
matter of fact, the hereditary transmission of a con- 
tracted habit is effected in an irregular and far from 
precise manner, supposing it is ever really effected 
at all. 

But the whole difficulty comes from our desire to 
express the knowledge of the Hymenoptera in terms of 
intelligence. It is this that compels us to compare the 
Ammophila with the entomologist, who knows the 
caterpillar as he knows everything else—from the out- 
side, and without having on his part a special or vital 
interest. The Ammophila, we imagine, must learn, 
one by one, like the entomologist, the positions of 
the nerve-centres of the caterpillar—must acquire at 
least the practical knowledge of these positions by 
trying the effects of its sting. But there is no need 
for such a view if we suppose a sympathy (in the 
etymological sense of the word) between the Ammo- 
phila and its victim, which teaches it from within, so 
to say, concerning the vulnerability of the caterpillar. 
This feeling of vulnerability might owe nothing to 
outward perception, but result from the mere presence 
together of the Ammophila and the caterpillar, con- 
sidered no longer as two organisms, but as two 
activities. It would express, in a concrete form, the 
relation of the one to the other. Certainly, a scientific 
theory cannot appeal to considerations of this kind. 
It must not put action before organization, sympathy 
before perception and knowledge. But, once more, 
either philosophy has nothing to see here, or its réle 
begins where that of science ends. 

Whether it makes instinct a “compound reflex,” or 
a habit formed intelligently that has become automatism, 
or a sum of small accidental advantages accumulated 


and fixed by selection, in every case science claims to 
resolve instinct completely either into ze/ligent actions, 
or into mechanisms built up piece by piece like those 
combined by our intelligence. I agree indeed that 
science is here within its function. It gives us, in 
default of a real analysis of the object, a translation 
of this object in terms of intelligence. But is it not 
plain that science itself invites philosophy to consider 
things in another way? If our biology was still that 
of Aristotle, if it regarded the series of living beings as 
unilinear, if it showed us the whole of life evolving 
towards intelligence and passing, to that end, through 
sensibility and instinct, we should be right, we, the 
intelligent beings, in turning back towards the earlier 
and consequently inferior manifestations of life and in 
claiming to fit them, without deforming them, into the 
moulds of our understanding. But one of the clearest 
results of biology has been to show that evolution has 
taken place along divergent lines. It is at the ex- 
tremity of two of these lines—the two principal—that 
we find intelligence and instinct in forms almost pure. 
Why, then, should instinct be resolvable into intelligent 
elements? Why, even, into terms entirely intelligible ? 
Is it not obvious that to think here of the intelligent, 
or of the absolutely intelligible, is to go back to the 
Aristotelian theory of nature? No doubt it is better 
to go back to that than to stop short before instinct as 
before an unfathomable mystery. But, though instinct 
is not within the domain of intelligence, it is not 
situated beyond the limits of mind. In the pheno- 
mena of feeling, in unreflecting sympathy and anti- 
pathy, we experience in ourselves,—though under a 
much vaguer form, and one too much penetrated with 
intelligence,—something of what must happen in the 


consciousness of an insect acting by instinct. Evolu- 
tion does but sunder, in order to develop them to the 
end, elements which, at their origin, interpenetrated 
each other. More precisely, intelligence is, before 
anything else, the faculty of relating one point of 
space to another, one material object to another ; it 
applies to all things, but remains outside them ; and 
of a deep cause it perceives only the effects spread out 
side by side. Whatever be the force that is at work 
in the genesis of the nervous system of the caterpillar, 
to our eyes and our intelligence it is only a juxta- 
position of nerves and nervous centres. It is true that 
we thus get the whole outer effect of it. The Ammo- 
phila, no doubt, discerns but a very little of that force, 
just what concerns itself ; but at least it discerns it from 
within, quite otherwise than by a process of knowledge 
—by an intuition (/ived rather than represented), which 
is probably like what we call divining sympathy. 

A very significant fact is the swing to and fro of 
scientific theories of instinct, from regarding it as in- 
telligent to regarding it as simply intelligible, or, shall 
I say, between likening it to an intelligence “lapsed ” 
and reducing it to a pure mechanism.’ Each of these 
systems of explanation triumphs in its criticism of the 
other, the first when it shows us that instinct cannot be 
a mere reflex, the other when it declares that instinct is 
something different from intelligence, even fallen into 
unconsciousness. What can this mean but that they 
are two symbolisms, equally acceptable in certain 
respects, and, in other respects, equally inadequate to 
their object? The concrete explanation, no longer 

1 See, in particular, among recent works, Bethe, “ Dirfen wir den 
Ameisen und Bienen psychische Qualitdéten zuschreiben ?” (Arch. f. d. ges. 
Physiologie, 1898), and Forel, “Un Apergu de psychologie comparée ” 
(Année psychologique, 1895). 


scientific, but metaphysical, must be sought along quite 
another path, not in the direction of intelligence, but in 
that of “sympathy.” 

Instinct is sympathy. If this sympathy could extend 
its object and also reflect upon itself, it would give us 
the key to vital operations—just as_ intelligence, 
\ developed and disciplined, guides us into matter. For 
—we cannot too often repeat it—intelligence and 
instinct are turned in opposite directions, the former 
towards inert matter, the latter towards life. Intelli- 
gence, by means of science, which is its work, will 
deliver up to us more and more completely the secret 
of physical operations ; of life it brings us, and more- 
over only claims to bring us, a translation in terms of 
inertia. It goes all round life, taking from outside the 
greatest possible number of views of it, drawing it into 
itself instead of entering into it.. But it is to the very 
inwardness of life that zwtuition leads us,—by intuition 
I mean instinct that has become disinterested, self- 
conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object and of 
enlarging it indefinitely. 

That an effort of this kind is not impossible, is 
proved by the existence in man of an aesthetic faculty 
along with normal perception. Our eye perceives the 
features of the living being, merely as assembled, not as 
mutually organized. The intention of life, the simple 
movement that runs through the lines, that binds them 
together and gives them significance, escapes it. This 
intention is just what the artist tries to regain, in 
placing himself back within the object by a kind of 
sympathy, in breaking down, by an effort of intuition, 
the barrier that space puts up between him and his 
model. It is true that this aesthetic intuition, like 


external perception, only attains the individual. But 
we can conceive an inquiry turned in the same direc- | 
tion as art, which would take life in general for its 
_ object, just as physical science, in following to the end 
the direction pointed out by external perception, pro- 
longs the individual facts into general laws. No doubt 
this philosophy will never obtain a knowledge of its 
object comparable to that which science has of its own. 
Intelligence remains the luminous nucleus around 
which instinct, even enlarged and purified into in- 
tuition, forms only a vague nebulosity. But, in default 
of knowledge properly so called, reserved to pure 
intelligence, intuition may enable us to grasp what it is 
that intelligence fails to give us, and indicate the means 
of supplementing it. On the one hand, it will utilize 
the mechanism of intelligence itself to show how in- 
tellectual moulds cease to be strictly applicable ; and 
on the other hand, by its own work, it will suggest to 
us the vague feeling, if nothing more, of what must 
take the place of intellectual moulds. Thus, intuition 
may bring the intellect to recognize that life does not 
quite go into the category of the many nor yet into 
that of the one; that neither mechanical causality nor 
finality can give a sufficient interpretation of the vital 
process. Then, by the sympathetic communication 
which it establishes between us and the rest of the 
living, by the expansion of our consciousness which it 
brings about, it introduces us into life’s own domain, 
which is reciprocal interpenetration, endlessly continued 
creation. But, though it thereby transcends intelli- 
gence, it is from intelligence that has come the push 
that has made it rise to the point it has reached. 
Without intelligence, it would have remained in the 
form of instinct, riveted to the special object of its 


practical interest, and turned outward by it into move- 
ments of locomotion. 

How theory of knowledge must take account of 
these two faculties, intellect and intuition, and how 
also, for want of establishing a sufficiently clear dis- 
tinction between them, it becomes involved in inextric- 
able difficulties, creating phantoms of ideas to which 
there cling phantoms of problems, we shall endeavour 
to show a little further on. We shall see that the 
problem of knowledge, from this point of view, is one 
with the metaphysical problem, and that both one and 
the other depend upon experience. On the one hand, 
indeed, if intelligence is charged with matter and 
instinct with life, we must squeeze them both in order 
to get the double essence from them ; metaphysics is 
therefore dependent upon theory of knowledge. But, 
on the other hand, if consciousness has thus split up 
into intuition and intelligence, it is because of the 
need it had to apply itself to matter at the same time 
as it had to follow the stream of life. The double 
form of consciousness is then due to the double form 
of the real, and theory of knowledge must be de- 
pendent upon metaphysics. In fact, each of these two 
lines of thought leads to the other; they form a circle, 
and there can be no other centre to the circle but the 
empirical study of evolution.” It is only in seeing 
consciousness run through matter, lose itself there and 
find itself there again, divide and reconstitute itself, 
that we shall form an idea of the mutual opposition of 
the two terms, as also, perhaps, of their common origin. 
But, on the other hand, by dwelling on this opposition 
of the two elements and on this identity of origin, 
perhaps we shall bring out more clearly the meaning 
of evolution itself. 

23 ee 


Such will be the aim of our next chapter. But 
the facts that we have just noticed must have already 
suggested to us the idea that life is connected either 

_ with consciousness or with something that resembles it. 

Throughout the whole extent of the animal kingdom, 
we have said, consciousness seems proportionate to the 
living being’s power of choice. It lights up the zone 
of potentialities that surrounds the act. It fills the 
interval between what is done and what might be done. 
Looked at from without, we may regard it as a simple 
aid to action, a light that action kindles, a momentary 
spark flying up from the friction of real action against 
possible actions. But we must also point out that 
things would go on in just the same way if conscious- 
ness, instead of being the effect, were the cause. We 
might suppose that consciousness, even in the most rudi- 
mentary animal, covers by right an enormous field, but 
is compressed in fact in a kind of vice: each advance 
of the nervous centres, by giving the organism a choice 
between a larger number of actions, calls forth the 
potentialities that are capable of surrounding the real, 
thus opening the vice wider and allowing consciousness 
to pass more freely. In this second hypothesis, as in 
the first, consciousness is still the instrument of action ; 
but it is even more true to say that action is the 
instrument of consciousness ; for the complicating of 
action with action, and the opposing of action to action, 
are for the imprisoned consciousness the only possible 
means to set itself free. How, then, shall we choose 
between the two hypotheses? If the first is true, 
consciousness must express exactly, at each instant, the 
state of the brain ; there is strict parallelism (so far as 
intelligible) between the psychical and the cerebral 

state. On the second hypothesis, on the contrary, 


there is indeed solidarity and interdependence between 
the brain and consciousness, but not parallelism: the 
more complicated the brain becomes, thus giving the 
organism greater choice of possible actions, the more 
does consciousness outrun its physical concomitant. 
Thus, the recollection of the same spectacle probably 
modifies in the same way a dog’s brain and a man’s 
brain, if the perception has been the same; yet the 
recollection must be very different in the man’s con- 
sciousness from what it is in the dog’s. In the dog, 
the recollection remains the captive of perception ; 
it is brought back to consciousness only when an 
analogous perception recalls it by reproducing the same 
spectacle, and then it is manifested by the recognition, 
acted rather than thought, of the present perception 
much more than by an actual reappearance of the 
recollection itself. Man, on the contrary, is capable 
of calling up the recollection at will, at any moment, 
independently of the present perception. He is not 
limited to playing his past life again ; he represents and 
dreams it. The local modification of the brain to 
which the recollection is attached being the same in each 
case, the psychological difference between the two 
recollections cannot have its ground in a particular 
difference of detail between the two cerebral mechanisms, 
but in the difference between the two brains taken each 
as a whole. The more complex of the two, in putting 
a greater number of mechanisms in opposition to one 
another, has enabled consciousness to disengage itself 
from the restraint of one and all and to reach inde- 
pendence. That things do happen in this way, that the 
second of the two hypotheses is that which must be 
chosen, is what we have tried to prove, in a former 
work, by the study of facts that best bring into relief 


the relation of the conscious state to the cerebral state, 
the facts of normal and pathological recognition, in 
particular the forms of aphasia.’ But it could have 
been proved by pure reasoning, before even it was 
evidenced by facts. We have shown on what self- 
contradictory postulate, on what confusion of two 
mutually incompatible symbolisms, the hypothesis of 
equivalence between the cerebral state and the psychic 
state rests.” 

The evolution of life, looked at from this point, 
receives a clearer meaning, although it cannot be sub- 
sumed under any actual idea. It is as if a broad 
current of consciousness had penetrated matter, loaded, 
as all consciousness is, with an enormous multiplicity 
of interwoven potentialities. It has carried matter 
along to organization, but its movement has been at 
once infinitely retarded and infinitely divided. On 
the one hand, indeed, consciousness has had to fall 
asleep, like the chrysalis in the envelope in which it is 
preparing for itself wings ; and, on the other hand, the 
manifold tendencies it contained have been distributed 
among divergent series of organisms which, moreover, 
express these tendencies outwardly in movements rather 
than internally in representations. In the course of 
this evolution, while some beings have fallen more 
and more asleep, others have more and more com- 
pletely awakened, and the torpor of some has served 
the activity of others. But the waking could be 
effected in two different ways. Life, that is to say 
consciousness launched into matter, fixed its attention 
either on its own movement or on the matter it was 

1 Maitiére et mémoire, chaps. ii. and iii. 
2 “Le Paralogisme psycho-physiologique” (Revue de métaphysique, 
Nov. 1904). 


passing through ; and it has thus been turned either 
in the direction of intuition or in that of intellect. 
Intuition, at first sight, seems far preferable to intellect, 
since in it life and consciousness remain within them- 
selves. Buta glance at the evolution of living beings 
shows us that intuition could not go very far. On the 
side of intuition, consciousness found itself so restricted 
by its envelope that intuition had to shrink into 
instinct, that 1s, to embrace only the very small portion 
of life that interested it ; and this it embraces only in 
the dark, touching it while hardly seeing it. On this 
side, the horizon was soon shut out. On the contrary, 
consciousness, in shaping itself into intelligence, that is 
to say in concentrating itself at first on matter, seems 
to externalise itself in relation to itself; but, just 
because it adapts itself thereby to objects from without, 
it succeeds in moving among them and in evading the 
barriers they oppose to it, thus opening to itself an 
unlimited field. Once freed, moreover, it can turn 
inwards on itself, and awaken the potentialities of in- 
tuition which still slumber within it. 

From this point of view, not only does consciousness 
appear as the motive principle of evolution, but also, 
among conscious beings themselves, man comes to 
occupy a privileged place. Between him and the 
animals the difference is no longer one of degree, but 
of kind. We shall show how this conclusion is arrived 
at in our next chapter. Let us now show how the 
preceding analyses suggest it. 

A noteworthy fact is the extraordinary disproportion 
between the consequences of an invention and the 
invention itself. We have said that intelligence is 
modelled on matter and that it aims in the first place 
at fabrication. But does it fabricate in order to 


fabricate, or does it not pursue involuntarily, and even 
unconsciously, something entirely different? Fabri- 
cating consists in shaping matter, in making it supple 
and in bending it, in converting it into an instrument 
in order to become master of it. It is this mastery that 
profits humanity, much more even than the material 
result of the invention itself. Though we derive an 
immediate advantage from the thing made, as an 
intelligent animal might do, and though this advantage 
be all the inventor sought, it is a slight matter com- 
pared with the new ideas and new feelings that the 
invention may give rise to in every direction, as if 
the essential part of the effect were to raise us above 
ourselves and enlarge our horizon. Between the effect 
and the cause the disproportion is so great that it is 
difficult to regard the cause as producer of its effect. It 
releases it, whilst settling, indeed, its direction. Every- 
thing happens as though the grip of intelligence on 
matter were, in its main intention, to et something pass 
that matter is holding back. 

The same impression arises when we compare 
the brain of man with that of the animals. The 
difference at first appears to be only a difference of 
size and complexity. But, judging by function, there 
must be something else besides. In the animal, the 
motor mechanisms that the brain succeeds in setting 
up, or, in other words, the habits contracted voluntarily, 
have no other object nor effect than the accomplish- 
ment of the movements marked out in these habits, 
stored in these mechanisms. But, in man, the motor 
habit may have a second result, out of proportion to 
the first: it can hold other motor habits in check, and 
thereby, in overcoming automatism, set consciousness 
free. We know what vast regions in the human 



brain language occupies. Thecerebral mechanisms that 
correspond to the words have this in particular, that 
they can be made to grapple with other mechanisms, 
those, for instance, that correspond to the things them- 
selves, or even be made to grapple with one another. 
Meanwhile consciousness, which would have been 
dragged down and drowned in the accomplishment 
of the act, is restored and set free.’ 

The difference must therefore be more radical than 
a superficial examination would lead us to suppose. 
It is the difference between a mechanism which engages 
the attention and a mechanism from which it can 
be diverted. The primitive steam-engine, as New- 
comen conceived it, required the presence of a 
person exclusively employed to turn on and off the 
taps, either to let the steam into the cylinder or to 
throw the cold spray into it in order to condense the 
steam. It is said that a boy employed on this work, 
and very tired of having to do it, got the idea of 
tying the handles of the taps, with cords, to the 
beam of the engine. Then the machine opened and 
closed the taps itself; it worked all alone. Now, 
if an observer had compared the structure of this 
second machine with that of the first without taking 
into account the two boys left to watch over them, 
he would have found only a slight difference of com- 
plexity. That is, indeed, all we can perceive when 
we look only at the machines. But if we cast a 
glance at the two boys, we shall see that whilst one 
is wholly taken up by the watching, the other is free to 

1 A geologist whom we have already had occasion to cite, N. S. Shaler, 
well says that “ when we come to man, it seems as if we find the ancient 
subjection of mind to body abolished, and the intellectual parts develop with 
an extraordinary rapidity, the structure of the body remaining identical 
in essentials” (Shaler, The Interpretation of Nature, Boston, 1899, p. 187). 


go and play as he chooses, and that, from this point of 
view, the difference between the two machines is radical, 
the first holding the attention captive, the second setting 
it at liberty. A difference of the same kind, we think, 
would be found between the brain of an animal and the 
human brain. 

If, now, we should wish to express this in terms of 
finality, we should have to say that consciousness, after 
having been obliged, in order to set itself free, to divide 
organization into two complementary parts, vegetables 
on one hand and animals on the other, has sought 
an issue in the double direction of instinct and of 
intelligence. It has not found it with instinct, and it has 
not obtained it on the side of intelligence except by a 
sudden leap from the animal to man. So that, in the 
last analysis, man might be considered the reason for the 
existence of the entire organization of life on our planet. 
But this would be only a manner of speaking. There 
is, in reality, only a current of existence and the opposing 
current ; thence proceeds the whole evolution of life. 
We must now grasp more closely the opposition of 
these two currents. Perhaps we shall thus discover for 
them a common source. By this we shall also, no 
doubt, penetrate the most obscure regions of meta- 
physics. However, as the two directions we have to 
follow are clearly marked, in_ intelligence on the 
one hand, in ‘instinct and intuitiom on the other, 
we are not afraid of straying. A survey of the 
evolution of life suggests to us a certain conception of 
knowledge, and also a certain metaphysics, which imply 
each other. Once made clear, this metaphysics and 
this critique may throw some light, in their turn, on — 
evolution as a whole. 



In the course of our first chapter we traced a line of 
demarcation between the inorganic and the organized, 
but we pointed out that the division of unorganized 
matter into separate bodies is relative to our senses and 
to our intellect, and that matter, looked at as an un- 
divided whole, must be a flux rather than a thing. In 
this we were preparing the way for a reconciliation 
between the inert and the living. 

On the other side, we have shown in our second 
chapter that the same opposition is found again between 
instinct and intelligence, the one turned to certain 
determinations of life, the other moulded on the 
configuration of matter. But instinct and intelligence, 
we have also said, stand out from the same > background, - 
which, for want of a better name, we may call con- 
~ sciousness in general, and which must be coextensive 
_with universal life. In this way, we have disclosed the 
possibility “of showing the genesis of intelligence in set- 
ting out from general consciousness, which embraces it. 

We are now, then, to attempt a genesis of intellect 
at the same time as a genesis of material bodies—two 
enterprises that are evidently correlative, if it be true 
that the main lines of our intellect mark out the general 



form of our action on matter, and that the detail of 
matter is ruled by the requirements of our action. 
Intellectuality and materiality have been constituted, _ 
in detail, by reciprocal adaptation. Both are derived | 
from a wider and higher form of existence. It is 
there that we must replace them, in order to see them 
issue forth. 

Such an attempt may appear, at first, more daring 
than the boldest speculations of metaphysicians. It 
claims to go further than psychology, further than. 
cosmology, further than traditional metaphysics ; for 
psychology, cosmology and metaphysics take intelli- 
gence, in all that is essential to it, as given, instead of, 
as we now propose, engendering it in its form and in 
its matter. The enterprise is in reality much more 
modest, as we are going to show. But let us first say 
how it differs from others. 

To begin with psychology, we are not to believe 
that it engenders intelligence when it follows the pro- 
gressive development of it through the animal series. 
Comparative psychology teaches us that the more an 
animal is intelligent, the more it tends to reflect on the 
actions by which it makes use of things, and thus to 
approximate to man. But its actions have already by 
themselves adopted the principal lines of human action ; 
they have made out the same general directions in the 
material world as we have; they depend upon the 
same objects bound together by the same relations ; so 
that animal intelligence, although it does not form 
concepts properly so called, already moves in a 
conceptual atmosphere. Absorbed at every instant by 
the actions it performs and the attitudes it must adopt, 
drawn outward by them and so externalized in relation 
to itself, it no doubt plays rather than thinks its ideas; . 


this play none the less already corresponds, in the main, 
to the general plan of human intelligence. To explain 
the intelligence of man by that of the animal consists 
then simply in following the development of an embryo 
of humanity into complete humanity. We show howa 
certain direction has been followed further and further 
by beings moreand more intelligent. But the moment 
we admit the direction, intelligence is given. 

In a cosmogony like that of Spencer, intelligence is 
taken for granted, as matter also at the same time. We 
are shown matter obeying laws, objects connected with 
objects and facts with facts by constant relations, con- 
sciousness receiving the imprint of these relations and 
laws, and thus adopting the general configuration of 
nature and shaping itself into intellect. But how can 
we fail to see that intelligence is supposed when we 

“admit objects and facts? 4 priori and apart from any 

hypothesis on the nature of matter, it is evident that the 
materiality of a body does not stop at the point at which 
we touch it: a body is present wherever its influence is 
felt ; its attractive force, to speak only of that, is exerted 
on the sun, on the planets, perhaps on the entire 
universe. The more physics advances, the more 
it effaces the individuality of bodies and even of the 
particles into which the scientific imagination began by 
decomposing them: bodies and corpuscles tend to 
dissolve into a universal interaction. Our percep- 

| Aions give us the plan of our eventual action on 
’ things much more than that of things themselves. 

The outlines we find in objects simply mark what 

we can attain and modify in them. Poa he lines we see 

“traced through matter are just the paths on which 

1 We have developed this point in Matiére et mémoire, chaps. ii. and iii., 
notably pp. 78-80 and 169-186. 


we are called to move. Outlines and paths have 
declared themselves in the measure and proportion 
that consciousness has prepared for action on un- 
organized matter—that is to say, in the measure and 
proportion that intelligence has been formed. It is 
doubtful whether animals built on a different plan—a 
mollusc or an insect, for instance,—cut matter up along 
the same articulations. It is not indeed necessary that 
they should separate it into bodies at all. In order to 
follow the indications of instinct, there is no need to 
perceive objects, it is enough to distinguish properties. 
Intelligence, on the contrary, even in its humblest form, 
already aims at getting matter to act on matter. If on 
one side matter lends itself to a division into active 
and passive bodies, or more simply into coexistent and 
distinct fragments, it is from this side that intelligence 
will regard it; and the more it busies itself with dividing, 
the more it will spread out in space, in the form of 
extension adjoining extension, a matter that undoubtedly 
itself has a tendency to spatiality, but whose parts are 
yet in a state of reciprocal implication and interpenetra- 
tion. Thus the same movement by which the mind is 
brought to form itself into intellect, that is to say, into 
distinct concepts, brings matter to break itself up into 
objects excluding one another. The more consciousness is 
intellectualized, the more is matier-spatiah 

‘ the ~evolutionist-philosophy, when it imagines in space 
a matter cut up on the very lines that our action 
will follow, has given itself.in_advance, ready made, the 

: zed " So that 


intelligence of which it claims to show the genesis, 
Metaphysics~applies~i work of the same 

kind, though subtler and more self-conscious, when it 
deduces @ priori the categories of thought. It com- 
presses intellect, reduces it to its quintessence, holds 


it tight in a principle so simple that it can be thought 
empty: from this principle we then draw out what » 
we have virtually put into it. In this way we may 
no doubt show the coherence of intelligence, define 
intellect, give its formula, but we do not trace its 
genesis. An enterprise like that of Fichte, although 
more philosophical than that of Spencer, in that it 
pays more respect to the true order of things, hardly 
leads us any further. Fichte takes thought in a 
concentrated state, and expands it into reality ; Spencer 
starts from external reality, and condenses it into 
intellect. But, in the one case as in the other, the in-—_ 
tellect must be taken at the beginning as given,—either 
condensed or expanded, grasped in itself by a direct 
vision or perceived by reflection in nature, as in a mirror. 
The agreement of most philosophers on this point 
comes from the fact that they are at one in affirming 
the unity of nature, and in representing this unity 
under an abstract and geometrical form. Between 
the organized and the unorganized they do not see and 
they will not see the cleft. Some start from the inorganic, 
and, by compounding it with itself, claim to form the 
living ; others place life first, and proceed towards 
matter by a skilfully managed decrescendo ; but, for 
both, there are only differences of degree in nature 
—degrees of complexity in the first hypothesis, of 
intensity in the second. Once this principle is 
admitted, intelligence becomes as vast as reality ; for 
it is unquestionable that whatever is geometrical in 
things is entirely accessible to human intelligence, and 
if the continuity between geometry and the rest is 
perfect, all the rest must indeed be equally intelligible, 
equally intelligent. Such is the postulate of most 
systems. Any one can easily be convinced of this by 


comparing doctrines that seem to have no common 
point, no common measure, those of Fichte and Spencer 
for instance, two names that we happen to have Just 
brought together. 

the two convictions correlative and Tanning that — 
_nature is one and that the function of intellect is to 
embrace it in its entirety. The faculty of knowing 
being supposed “coextensive with the whole of experi- 
ence, there can no longer be any question of engendering 
it. It is already given, and we merely have to use it, 
as we use our sight to take in the horizon. It is 
true that opinions differ as to the value of the result. 
For some, it is reality itself that the intellect embraces ; 
for others, it is only a phantom. But, phantom or 
reality, what intelligence grasps_is thought to be all 

that can be attained. as 
~~ Hence the exaggerated confidence of philosophy in 
the powers of the individual mind. Whether it is 
dogmatic or critical, whether it admits the relativity of 
our knowledge or claims to be established within the 

absolute, a philosophy 1s _generally | the work of a 

philosopher, a_single_ and Unitary vision of the whole. 
It is to be taken or left. aaienemmanemeaail 

Moré modest, and also alone eer of being 
completed and perfected, is the philosophy we advocate. 
Human intelligence, as we represent it, is not at all 
what Plato taught in the allegory of the cave. Its 
function is not to look at passing shadows nor yet to 
turn itself round and contemplate the glaring sun. 
It has something else to do. Hiarnessed, like yoked 
oxen, to a heavy task, we feel the play of our muscles 
and joints, the weight of the plough and the re- 
sistance of the soil. To act and to know that we are 



acting, to come into touch with reality and even to 
live it, but only in the measure in which it concerns 
the work that is being accomplished and- the. furrow 
that is being ploughed, such is the function.of human 
intelligence. Yet a beneficent fluid bathes us, whence 
we draw the very force to labour and to live. From 
this ocean of life, in which we are immersed, we are 
continually drawing something, and we feel that our 
being, or at least the intellect that guides it, has 
been formed therein by a kind of local concentration. 
Philosophy can only be an effort to dissolve again into 
the Whole. Intelligence, reabsorbed into its principle, 
may thus live back again its own genesis. But the 
enterprise cannot be achieved in one stroke; it 1s 
necessarily collective and progressive. It consists in an 
interchange of impressions which, correcting and adding 
to each other, will end by expanding the humanity in 
us and making us even transcend it. 

But this method has against it the most inveterate 
habits of the mind. It at once suggests the idea of a 
vicious circle. In vain, we shall be told, you claim to 
go beyond intelligence: how can you do that except 
by intelligence ? All that is clear in your conscious- 
ness is intelligence. You are inside your own thought; 
you cannot get out of it. Say, if you like, that the 
intellect is capable of progress, that it will see more 
and more clearly into a greater and greater number 
of things; but do not speak of engendering it, for 
it is with your intellect itself that you would have to 
do the work. 

The objection presents itself naturally to the mind. 
But the same reasoning would prove also the im- 
possibility of acquiring any new habit. It is of the 
essence of reasoning to shut us up in the circle of 


the given. But action breaks the circle. If we had 
never | seen a man swim, we might say that s swimming ~ 
is an impossible thing, inasmuch as, to learn to swim, 
we must begin by holding ourselves up in the water and, 
consequently, already know how to swim. Reasoning, in 
fact, always nails us down to the solid ground. But if, 
Bote ch I throw myself into the water without 
fear, I may keep myself up well enough at first by 
merely struggling, and gradually adapt myself to the 
new environment: I shall thus have learnt to swim. 
So, in theory, there is a kind of absurdity in trying to 
know otherwise than by intelligerce+~—but~if—the- Fisk— 
~be frankly” accepted, action will pertaps” cut the kriot 
— reasoning has tied and will not unloose. 
~--~-Besides, the risk will appear to grow less, the more 
our point an view is adopted. We have shown that 
intellect has detached itself from a vastly wider reality, 
but that there has never been a clean cut between 
the two ; all around conceptual thought there remains 
an indistinct fringe which recalls its origin. And further 
we compared the intellect to a solid nucleus formed by 
means of condensation. This nucleus does not differ 
radically from the fluid surrounding it. It can only be 
reabsorbed in it because it is made of the same 
substance. He who throws himself into the water, 
having known only the resistance of the solid earth, 
will immediately be drowned if he does not struggle 
against the fluidity of the new environment: he must 
perforce still cling to that solidity, so to speak, 
which even water presents. Only on this condition 
can he get used to the fluid’s fluidity. So of our 
thought, when it has decided to make the leap. 
_But leap it must, that is, leave its own environment. 

Reason, reasoning -on-its powers, will never succeed in 



extending them, though the extension would not appear 
at all unreasonable once it were accomplished. Thousands 
and thousands of variations on the theme of walking 
will never yield a rule for swimming: come, enter the 
water, and when you know how to swim, you will 
understand how the mechanism of swimming is con- 
nected with that of walking. Swimming is an extension 
of walking, but walking would never have pushed you 
on to swimming. .So you may speculate as intelligently 
_as you will on the. mechanism. of intelligence ; you w will | 
never, by this method, succeed in “going beyond It. 
You may get something more complex, but not some- 
thing higher nor even something different. You must-—-—— 
take things by storm: you must thrust intelligence 
outside itself by an act of will, 

So the vicious circle is only apparent. It is, on 
the contrary, real, we think, in every other method 
of philosophy. This we must try to show in a 
few words, if only to prove that philosophy cannot” ~ 
and must not accept the relation established by pure™ 
intellectualism between the theory of knowledge and 
the theory of the aiahstis between metaphysics and _ 
ance. ent Te ae 

At first sight, it may seem prudent to leave the 
consideration of facts to positive science, to let physics 
and chemistry busy themselves with matter, the bio- 
logical and psychological sciences with life. The task 
of the philosopher is then clearly defined. He takes 
facts and laws from the scientist’s hand ; and whether 
he tries to go beyond them in order to reach their 
deeper causes, or whether he thinks it impossible to’ 
go further and even proves it by the analysis of 
scientific knowledge, 1 in be both cases he has for the facts — 

—— — 


and relations, handed over by science, the sort of _ 
respect that-is-due—toa-final.verdiet--~To this Know- 
“ledge he adds-a-~eritique-of-the~faculty~of knowing, 
and also, if he thinks proper, a metaphysic;—but_th bthe 
_matter nf knowledge he regards as the affair of science 
__and not of philosophy. Ratias 
But how does he fail to see that the real result of 
this so-called division of labour is to mix up everything 
and confuse everything? The metaphysic or the critique 
that the philosopher has reserved for himself he has 
to receive, ready-made, from positive science, it being 
. already contained in the descriptions and analyses, the 
whole care of which he left to the scientists. For 
not having wished to intervene, at. the beginning, re 
questions oF fact, he finds himself reduced, in questions 
of principle, to formulating purely and simply i in more 
~ precise terms the unconscious and consequently incon- 
“sistent metaphysic and critique which the very attitude of 
euvnuewtience to reality marks out. Let us not be deceived by 
an apparent analogy between natural things and human 
things. Here we are not in the judiciary domain, 
where the description of fact and the judgment on 
the fact are two distinct things, distinct for the very 
simple reason that above the fact, and independent of it, 
there is a law promulgated by a legislator. Here the 
laws are internal to the facts and relative to the lines 
that have been followed in cutting the real into co | 

facts. We cannot describe the outward appearance of 
the object without prejudging its inner nature and its 
organization. Form is no longer entirely isolable from 
matter, and he who has begun by reserving to philo- 
sophy questions of principle, and who has thereby 
tried to put philosophy above the sciences, as a “court 
of cassation” is above the courts of assizes and of 


appeal, will gradually come to make no more of 
philosophy than a registration court, charged at most 
with wording more precisely the sentences that are 
brought to it, pronounced and irrevocable. 

Positive science is, in fact, a work of pure intellect. 
Now, whether our conception of the intellect be 
accepted or rejected, there is one point on which 
everybody will agree with us, and that is that the 
intellect is at home in the presence of unorganized 
matter. This matter it makes use of more and more 
by mechanical inventions, and mechanical inventions 
become the easier to it the more it thinks matter as 
mechanism. The intellect bears within itself, in the 
form of natural logic, a latent geometrism that is set 
free in the measure and proportion that the intellect 
penetrates into the inner nature of inert matter. In-- 
telligence is in tune ‘with this matter, and that is why 
the physics and metaphysics of inert matter are so near 
each other. Now, when the intellect undertakes the 
study of life, it necessarily treats the living like the 
inert, ‘lene the same forms to this. new. object, 
carrying over into this new field the. _same.habits. that." 

“have succeeded so well in the old ; and it is right to_ 

do so, for only on such terms. Bee 

our action _ the _same hold as inert matter. . But the 22) 
“truth we_ thus 1s arrive at becomes altogether relative to | 
gur_faculty, of action. It is no more than Oe 
verity. It cannot have the same valué as the physical—. 

ue verity, being only an n extension of of physics | to an n-object 
_which we are 4 prior: agreed to o look at only in its” 

, external aspect. ct. ~The duty-of philosophy should be to 

‘intéPvene-here actively, to examine the living without 

any reservation as to practical utility, by freeing itself. 

from forms and habits that are strictly intellectual. 

‘ Se arene | 


Its own special object is to speculate, that is to say, 
to see; its attitude toward the living should not be 
that of_science, which aims only at action, and-which, 

being able to act only by means_of inert matter, ee 

presents to itself the rest of reality in this single , 
respect. _ What must the result be, if it leave biological 
and psychological facts to positive science alone, as it 
has left, and rightly left, physical facts? It will accept 

__@ priori_a mechanistic conception of all nature;-a~con=—~ ~~ 

Oi sae ae 

of the material heed. It will @ priori accept the , 
doctrine of the simple unity of knowledge and of a 
abstract unity of nature. 

The moment it does so, its fate is sealed. the 
philosopher has no longer any choice save between a 
metaphysical dogmatism and a metaphysical scepticism, 
both of which rest, at bottom, on the same postulate, 
and neither of which adds anything to positive science. 
He may hypostasize the unity of nature, or, what 
comes to the same thing, the unity of science, in a 
being who is nothing since he does nothing, an in- 
effectual God who simply sums up in himself all the 
given; or in an eternal Matter from whose womb 
have been poured out the properties of things and 
the laws of nature; or, again, in a pure Form which 
endeavours to seize an unseizable multiplicity, and 
which is, as we will, the form of nature or the form 
of thought. All these philosophies tell us, in their 
different languages, that science is nig 

_ception_unrefl ever unconscious, the outcome 

jiving as the-inert.and tl that there 1s no difference or 

_value, no distinction to be made between the results 

~ which intellect arrives at in applying 1 _its-categories;~ 
whether it rests on inert matter or attacks life. _ 
In many cases, however, we feel the frame cracking. 


a - 


But as we did not begin by distinguishing between the 
inert and the living, the one adapted in advance to the 
frame in which we insert it, the other incapable of 
being held in the frame otherwise than by a con- 
vention which eliminates from it all that is essential, 
we find ourselves, in the end, reduced to regarding 
everything the frame contains with equal suspicion. 
To a metaphysical dogmatism, which has erected 
into an absolute the factitious unity of science, there 
succeeds a scepticism or a relativism that universalizes 
and extends to all the results of science the artificial 
character of some among them. So philosophy swings 
to and fro between the doctrine that regards absolute 
reality as unknowable and that which, in the idea it 
gives us of this reality, says nothing more than science 
_has said. For having wished to prevent all conflict 
_ between science and philosophy, we have sacrificed 
philosophy without any appreciable gain to science. 
And for having tried to avoid the seeming vicious 
circle which consists in using the intellect to transcend 
the intellect, we find ourselves turning in a real circle, 
that which consists in laboriously rediscovering by 
metaphysics a unity that we began by positing @ priori, 
a unity that we admitted blindly and unconsciously 
by the very act of abandoning the whole of experience 
to science and the whole of reality to the pure 
understanding. . 
Let us begin, on the contrary, by tracing a line of 
demarcation between the inert and, the living. We 
“shall find that the inert enters naturally into the frames 
of the intellect, but that the living is adapted to these 
frames only artificially, so that we must adopt a special 
attitude towards it and examine it with other eyes than 
those of positive science. Philosophy, then, invades the 



domain of experience. She busies herself with many 
things which hitherto have not concerned her. Science, 
theory of knowledge, and metaphysics find themselves 
on the same ground. At first there may be a certain 
confusion. All three may think they have lost some- 
thing. But all three will profit from the meeting. 

Positive science, indeed, may pride itself on the 
uniform value attributed to its affrmations in the 
whole field of experience. But, if they are all placed 
on the same footing, they are all tainted with the same 
relativity. It is not so, if we begin by making the 
distinction which, in our view, is forced upon us. . The. 
understanding is at home in the domain of unorganized 
matter. — On ‘this matter human action is. _naturally _ 
_exercised ; and action, as we said above, cannot be set 
an. Boda in the cca al, Thus, of physics,—so long 
as we are considering “only its general form and not 
the particular cutting out of matter in which it is mani- 
fested,—we may say that it touches the absolute. On 
the contrary, it 1s by accident—chance or convention, 
as you please—that science obtains a hold on the living 
analogous to the hold it has on matter. Here the use 
of conceptual frames is no longer natural. I do not 
wish to say that it is not legitimate, in the scientific 
meaning of the term. If science is to extend our 
action on things, and if we can act only with inert 
matter for instrument, science can and must continue 
to treat the living as it has treated the inert... But, in 
doing so, it must be understood-that—the. is it 
_penetrates the depths ‘of life, the more symbolic, the __, 
more relative to the ‘contingenciés Of action, the know- 
ledge it supplies*to"Us* becomes. On this new ground 
“philosophy: “oughtthento follow science, in order to 

_ superpose on scientific truth a knowledge of another kind, 
_superpose onscientific tru g kind 



which may be called metaphysicaL— trhus combined, 
~alrour-knowlédge, both scientific and metaphysical, is 
heightened.| In the absolute we live and move and 
have our being. The knowledge we possess of it is 
incomplete, no doubt, but not external or relative. It 

is preety. itself, in. the. profoundest meaning of the 

Re ee, 

development of science nd af philosophy. 
.. “Lpus, in renouncing the factitious unity which the 
| Beteteadine imposes on nature from outside, we 
| shall perhaps find its true, inward and living unity. 
For the effort we make to transcend the pure under- 
standing introduces us into that more vast something 
out of which our understanding is cut, and from 
which it has detached itself. And, as matter is 
determined by intelligence, as there is between them 
an evident agreement, we cannot make the genesis of 
the one without making the genesis of the other. An 
identical process must have cut out matter and the 
intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained 
both.__ Into. this_reality we shall_get back more and 
more completely, in proportion as we compel ourselves 
- to transcend pure intelligence. 

Let us then concentrate attention on that which we 
have that is at the same time the most removed from 
externality and the least penetrated with intellectuality. 
Let us seek, in the depths of our experience, the point 
where we feel ourselves most intimately within our 
own life. It is into pure duration that we then plunge 
back, a duration in which the past, always moving on, 
is swelling unceasingly with a present that is absolutely 
new. But, at the same time, we feel the spring of our 
will strained to its utmost limit. We must, by a 


strong recoil of our personality on itself, gather up our 
past which is slipping away, in order to thrust it, 
compact and undivided, into a present which it will 
create by entering. Rare indeed are the moments 
when we are self-possessed to this extent : it is then that 7 
our actions are truly free. And even at these moments = —~ 
we do not completely possess ourselves. Our feeling nos 
of duration, I should say the actual coinciding of 
ourself with itself, admits of degrees. But the more 
the feeling is deep and the coincidence complete, the 
more the life in which it replaces us absorbs intel- 
lectuality by transcending it. For the natural function 
of the intellect is to bind like to like, and it is only 
facts that can be repeated that are entirely adaptable 
to intellectual conceptions. Now, our intellect does 
undoubtedly grasp the real moments of real duration 
after they are past; we do so by reconstituting the 
new state of consciousness out of a series of views 
taken of it from the outside, each of which resembles 
as much as possible something already known ; in this 
sense we may say that the state of consciousness 
contains intellectuality implicitly. Yet the state of 
consciousness overflows the intellect; it is indeed 
incommensurable with the intellect, being itself in- 
divisible and new. 
Now let us relax the strain, let us interrupt the 
effort to crowd as much as possible of the past into the 
present. If the relaxation were complete, there would 
no longer be either memory or will,—which amounts to 
saying that, in fact, we never do fall into this absolute 
passivity, any more than we can_make ourselves absol-_ 
utely free.—But,inthe—limit, we get-a glimpse of an- 
existence made of a present which recommences | (“UY ron 

unceasingly—devoid of real duration, nothing but the (27 


instantaneous which dies and is born again endlessly. 
Is the existence of matter of this nature? Not 
altogether, for analysis resolves it into elementary 
vibrations, the shortest of which are of very slight 
duration, almost vanishing, but not nothing. It may 
be presumed, nevertheless, that physical existence 
inclines in this second direction, as psychical existence 
in the first. 

Behind “spirituality”? on the one hand, and 
“ materiality ’’ with intellectuality on the other, there 
are then two processes opposite in their direction, and 
we pass from the first to the second by way of 
inversion, or perhaps even by simple interruption, if it 
is true that inversion and interruption are two terms 
which in this case must be held to be synonymous, 
as we shall show at more length later on. This pre- 
sumption is confirmed when we consider things from 
the point of view of extension, and no longer from 
that of duration alone. 

The more we succeed 1n making ourselves conscious 
of our progress in pure duration, the more we feel the 
different parts of our being enter into each other, and 
our whole personality concentrate itself in a point, or 
rather a sharp edge, pressed against the future and 
cutting into it unceasingly. It is in this that life and 
action are free. But suppose we let ourselves go and, 
instead of acting, dream. At once the self is scattered ; 
our past, which till then was gathered together into the 
indivisible impulsion it communicated to us, is broken 
up into a thousand recollections made external to one 
another. They give up interpenetrating in the degree 
that they become fixed. Our personality thus descends 
in the direction of space. It coasts around it continu- 
ally in sensation. We will not dwell here on a point 


we have studied elsewhere. Let us merely recall that 
extension admits of degrees, that all sensation is 
extensive in a certain measure, and that the idea of 
-unextended sensations, artificially localized in space, 
is a mere view of the mind, suggested by an uncon- 
scious metaphysic much more than by psychological 

No doubt we make only the first steps in the 
direction of the extended, even when we let ourselves 
go as much as we can. But suppose for a moment 
that matter consists in this very movement pushed 
further, and that physics is simply psychics inverted. 
We shall now understand why the mind feels at its 
ease, moves about naturally in space, when matter 
suggests the more distinct idea of it. This space it 
already possessed as an implicit idea in its own eventual 
detension, that is to say, of its own possible exsension. 
The mind finds space in things, but could have got 
it without them if it had had imagination strong 
enough to push the inversion of its own natural 
movement to the end. On the other hand, we are 
able to explain how matter accentuates still more its 
materiality, when viewed by the mind. Matter, at first, 
aided mind to run down its own incline; it gave the 
impulsion. But, the impulsion once received, mind 
continues its course. The idea that it forms of pure 
space is only the schema of the limit at which this 
movement would end. Once in possession of the 
form of space, mind uses it like a net with meshes | 
that can be made and unmade at will, which, thrown | 
over matter, divides it as the needs of our action | 
demand. Thus, the space of our geometry and the 
spatiality of things are mutually engendered by the 
reciprocal action and reaction of two terms which are 


essentially the same, but which move each in the 
direction inverse of the other. Neither is space so 
foreign to our nature as we imagine, nor is matter 
as completely extended in space as oursenses and 
intellect represent it. | 

- We have treated of the first point elsewhere. 
As to the second, we will limit ourselves to pointing 
out that perfect spatiality would consist in a perfect 
externality of parts in their relation to one another, 
that is to say, in a complete reciprocal independence. 
Now, there is no material point that does not act on 
every other material point. When we observe that a 
thing really zs there where it acts, we shall be led to 
say (as Faraday * was) that all the atoms interpenetrate 
and that each of them fills the world. On such a 
hypothesis, the atom or, more generally, the material 
point, becomes simply a view of the mind, a view 
which we come to take when we continue far enough 
the work (wholly relative to our faculty of acting) by 
which we subdivide matter into bodies. Yet it is 
undeniable that matter lends itself to this subdivision, 
and that, in supposing it breakable into parts external 
to one another, we are constructing a science sufficiently 
representative of the real. It is undeniable that if 
there be no entirely isolated system, yet science finds 
means of cutting up the universe into systems relatively 
independent of each other, and commits no appreciable 
error in doing so. What else can this mean but that 
matter extends itself in space without being absolutely 
extended therein, and that in regarding matter as de- 
composable into isolated systems, in attributing to it 
quite distinct elements which change in relation to 

1 Faraday, “A Speculation concerning Electric Conduction” (Philo 
sophical Magazine, 3d. series, vol. xxiv.). 



each other without changing in themselves (which are 
“ displaced,” shall we say, without being “‘altered’’), in 
short, in conferring on matter the properties of pure 

space, we are transporting ourselves to the terminal 

point of the movement of which matter simply 
indicates the direction ? 

What the Transcendental Aesthetic of Kant appears 
to have established once for all is that extension is 
not a material attribute of the same kind as others. 
We cannot reason indefinitely on the notions of heat, 
colour, or weight: in order to know the modalities 
of weight or of heat, we must have recourse to 
experience... Not so of the notion of space. Supposing 
even that it is given empirically by sight and touch (and 
Kant has not questioned the fact) there is this about it 
that is remarkable that our mind, speculating on it with 
its own powers alone, cuts out in it, a priort, figures 
whose properties we determine @ priori: experience, 
with which we have not kept in touch, yet follows us 
through the infinite complications of our reasonings 
and invariably justifies them. That is the fact. Kant 
has set it in clear light. But the explanation of the 
fact, we believe, must be sought in a different direction 
to that which Kant followed. 

Intelligence, as Kant represents it to us, is bathed 
in an atmosphere of spatiality to which it is as 
inseparably united as the living body to the air it 
breathes. Our perceptions reach us only after having 
passed through this atmosphere. They have been 
impregnated in advance by our geometry, so that our 
faculty of thinking only finds again in matter the 
mathematical properties which our faculty of per- 
ceiving has already deposed there. We are assured, 
therefore, of seeing matter yield itself with docility 


to our reasonings ; but this matter, in all that it has 
that is intelligible, is our own work; of the reality 
“in itself’? we know nothing and never shall know 
anything, since we only get its refraction through the 
forms of our faculty of perceiving. So that if we 
claim to affirm something of it, at once there rises 
the contrary affirmation, equally demonstrable, equally 
plausible. The ideality of space is proved directly by 
the analysis of knowledge, indirectly by the antinomies 
to which the opposite theory leads. Such is the 
governing idea of the Kantian criticism. It has 
inspired Kant with a peremptory refutation of 
“empiricist” theories of knowledge. It is, in our 
opinion, definitive in what it denies. But, in what 
it afirms, does it give us the solution of the problem ? 

With Kant, space is given as a ready-made form of 
our perceptive faculty,—a veritable deus ex machina, of 
which we see neither how it arises, nor why it 1s 
what it is rather than anything else.  Things-in- 
themselves” are also given, of which he claims that we 
can know nothing: by what right, then, can he affirm 
their existence, even as “problematic” ? If the un- 
knowable reality projects into our perceptive faculty a 
“sensuous manifold” capable of fitting into it exactly, 
is it not, by that very fact, in part known? And 
when we examine this exact fitting, shall we not be 
led, in one point at least, to suppose a pre-established 
harmony between things and our mind,—an idle 
hypothesis, which Kant was right in wishing to avoid f 
At bottom, it is for not having distinguished degrees 
in spatiality that he has had to take space ready made 
as given—whence the question how the “sensuous 
manifold” is adapted to it. It is for the same reason 
that he has supposed matter wholly developed into 


parts absolutely external to one another ;—whence 
antinomies, of which we may plainly see that the thesis 
and antithesis suppose the perfect coincidence of matter 
with geometrical space, but which vanish the moment 
we cease to extend to matter what is true only of pure 
space. Whence, finally, the conclusion that there are 
three alternatives, and three only, among which to 
choose a theory of knowledge: either the mind is 
determined by things, or things are determined by the 
mind, or between mind and things we must suppose 
a mysterious agreement. 

But the truth is that there is a fourth, which does 
not seem to have occurred to Kant—in the first place 
because he did not think that the mind overflowed the 
intellect, and in the second place (and this is at bottom 
the same thing) because he did not attribute to duration 
an absolute existence, having put time, a priori, on the 
same plane as space. This alternative consists, first 
of all, in regarding the intellect as a special finches 
of the mind, essentially turned toward inert matters 
then in saying that neither does matter decenaine 
the form of the intellect, nor does the intellect impose 
its form on matter, nor have matter and intellect been 
regulated in regard to one another by we know not 
what pre-established harmony, but that intellect and 
matter have progressively adapted themselves one to 
the other in order to attain at last a common form. 
This adaptation has, moreover, been brought about quite 
naturally, because it is the same inversion of the same 
movement which creates at once the intellectuality of mind 
and the materiality of things. 

From this point of view, the knowledge of matter 
that our perception on one hand and science on the 
other give to us appears, no doubt, as approximative, 


but not as relative. Our perception, whose rdle it is 
to hold up a light to our actions, works a dividing up 
of matter that is always too sharply defined, always 
subordinated to practical needs, consequently always 
requiring revision. Our science, which aspires to the 
mathematical form, over-accentuates the spatiality of 
matter ; its formulae are, in general, too precise, and 
ever need remaking. For a scientific theory to be 
final, the mind would have to embrace the totality 
of things in block and place each thing in its exact 
relation to every other thing ; but in reality we are 
obliged to consider problems one by one, in terms 
which are, for that very reason, provisional, so that 
the solution of each problem will have to be corrected 
indefinitely by the solution that will be given to the 
problems that will follow: thus, science as a whole is 
relative to the particular order in which the problems 
happen to have been put. It is in this meaning, 
and to this degree, that science must be regarded as 
conventional. But it is a conventionality of fact, 
so to speak, and not of right. In principle, positive 
science bears on reality itself, provided it does not 
overstep the limits of its own domain, which is inert 

Scientific knowledge, thus regarded, rises to a higher 
plane. In return, the theory of knowledge becomes 
an infinitely difficult enterprise, and which passes 
the powers of the intellect alone. It is not enough 
to determine, by careful analysis, the categories of 
thought ; we must engender them. As regards space, 
we must, by an effort of mind sué generis, follow 
the progression or rather the regression of the extra- 
spatial degrading itself into spatiality. When we 
make ourselves self-conscious in the highest possible 


degree and then let ourselves fall back little by 
little, we get the feeling of extension: we have an 
extension of the self into recollections that are fixed 
and external to one another, in place of the tension 
it possessed as an indivisible active will. But this 
is only a beginning. Our consciousness, sketching 
the movement, shows us its direction and reveals 
to us the possibility of continuing it to the end; but 
consciousness itself does not go so far. Now, on the 
other hand, if we consider matter, which seems to us 
at first coincident with space, we find that the more 
our attention is fixed on it, the more the parts which 
we said were laid side by side enter into each other, 
each of them undergoing the action of the whole, 
which is consequently somehow present in it. Thus, 
although matter stretches itself out in the direction 
of space, it does not completely ‘attain it; whence 
we may conclude that it only carries very much 
further the movement that consciousness is able to 
sketch within us in its nascent state. We hold, there- 
fore, the two ends of the chain, though we do not 
succeed in seizing the intermediate links. Will 
they always escape us? We must remember that 
philosophy, as we define it, has not yet become 
completely conscious of itself. Physics understands 
its rdle when it pushes matter in the direction of 
spatiality ; but has metaphysics understood its réle 
when it has simply trodden in the steps of physics, 
in the chimerical hope of going further in the same 
direction? Should not its own task be, on the con- 
trary, to remount the incline that physics descends, 
to bring back matter to its origins, and to build up 
progressively a cosmology which would be, so to 
speak, a reversed psychology? All that which seems 


positive to the physicist and to the geometrician 
would become, from this new point of view, an inter- 
ruption or inversion of the true positivity, which 
would have to be defined in psychological terms. 

When we consider the admirable order of mathe- 
matics, the perfect agreement of the objects it deals 
with, the immanent logic in numbers and figures, 
our certainty of always getting the same conclusion, 
however diverse and complex our reasonings on 
the same subject, we hesitate to see in properties 
apparently so positive a system of negations, the 
absence rather than the presence of a true reality. 
But we must not forget that our intellect, which 
finds this order and wonders at it, is directed in 
the same line of movement that leads to the 
materiality and spatiality of its object. The more 
complexity the intellect puts into its object by analys- 
ing it, the more complex is the order it finds there. 
And this order and this complexity necessarily appear 
to the intellect as a positive reality, since reality and 
intellectuality are turned in the same direction. 

When a poet reads me his verses, I can interest 
myself enough in him to enter into his thought, put 
myself into his feelings, live over again the simple 
state he has broken into phrases and words. I 
sympathize then with his inspiration, I follow it 
with a continuous movement which is, like the 
inspiration itself, an undivided act. Now, I need 
only relax my attention, let go the tension that there 
is in me, for the sounds, hitherto swallowed up in 
the sense, to appear to me distinctly, one by one, in 
their materiality. For this I have not to do any- 
thing ; it is enough to withdraw something. In 


proportion as I let myself go, the successive sounds 
will become the more individualized ; as the phrases 
were broken into words, so the words will scan in 
syllables which I shall perceive one after another. Let 
me go further still in the direction of dream: the 
letters themselves will become loose and will be seen 
to dance along, hand in hand, on some fantastic sheet 
of paper. I shall then admire the precision of the 
interweavings, the marvellous order of the procession, 
the exact insertion of the letters into the syllables, of 
the syllables into the words and of the words into the 
sentences. The further I pursue this quite negative 
direction of relaxation, the more extension and com- 
plexity I shall create ; and the more the complexity in 
its turn increases, the more admirable will seem to be 
the order which continues to reign, undisturbed, among 
the elements. Yet this complexity and extension repre- 
sent nothing positive; they express a deficiency of 
will, And, on the other hand, the order must grow 
with the complexity, since it is only an aspect of 
it. The more we perceive, symbolically, parts in an 
indivisible whole, the more the number of the relations 
that the parts have between themselves necessarily 
increases, since the same undividedness of the real whole 
continues to hover over the growing multiplicity of the 
symbolic elements into which the scattering of the 
attention has decomposed it. A comparison of this kind 
will enable us to understand, in some measure, how the 
same suppression of positive reality, the same inversion 
of a certain original movement, can create at once exten- 
sion in space and the admirable order which mathematics 
finds there. There is, of course, this difference between 
the two cases, that words and letters have been invented 
by a positive effort of humanity, while space arises 


automatically, as the remainder of a subtraction arises 
once the two numbers are posited.’ But, in the one 
case as in the other, the infinite complexity of the parts 
and their perfect codrdination among themselves are 
created at one and the same time by an inversion 
which is, at bottom, an interruption, that is to say, a 
diminution of positive reality. 

All the operations of our intellect tend to geometry, 
as to the goal where they find their perfect fulfilment. 
But, as geometry is necessarily prior to them (since 
these operations have not as their end to construct 
space and cannot do otherwise than take it as given), 
it 1s evident that it is a latent geometry, immanent 
in our idea of space, which is the mainspring of our 
intellect and the cause of its working. We shall be 
convinced of this if we consider the two essential 
functions of intellect, the faculty of deduction and that 
of induction. 

Let us begin with deduction. The same move- 

1 Our comparison does no more than develop the content of the term 
Abyos, as Plotinus understands it. For while the Adyos of this philosopher 
is a yenerating and informing power, an aspect or a fragment of the pux%, 
on the other hand Plotinus sometimes speaks of it as of a discourse. More 
generally, the relation that we establish in the present chapter between 
“extension” and “detension” resembles in some aspects that which 
Plotinus supposes (some developments of which must have inspired M. 
Ravaisson) wnen he makes extension not indeed an inversion of original 
Being, but an enfeeblement of its essence, one of the last stages of the 
procession (see in particular, Ean. IV. iii. g-11, and III. vi. 17-18). Yet 
ancient philosophy did not see what consequences would result from this 
for mathematics, for Plotinus, like Plato, erected mathematical essences 
into absolute realities. Above all, it suffered itself to be deceived by the 
purely superficial analogy of duration with extension. It treated the one 
as it treated the other, regarding change as a degradation of immutability, 
the sensible as a fall from the intelligible. Whence, as we shall show in 
the next chapter, a philosophy which fails to recognise the real function 
and scope of the intellect. 


ment by which I trace a figure in space engenders its 
properties : they are visible and tangible in the move- 
ment itself; I feel, I see in space the relation of the 
definition to its consequences, of the premisses to the 
conclusion. All the other concepts of which experience 
suggests the idea to me are only in part constructible 
a priori ; the definition of them is therefore imperfect, 
and the deductions into which these concepts enter, 
however closely the conclusion is linked to the pre- 
misses, participate in this imperfection. But when I 
trace roughly in the sand the base of a triangle, as I 
begin to form the two angles at the base, I know 
positively, and understand absolutely, that if these 
two angles are equal the sides will be equal also, the 
figure being then able to be turned over on itself 
without there being any change whatever. I know 
it before I have learnt geometry. Thus, prior to the 
science of geometry, there is a natural geometry whose 
clearness and evidence surpass the clearness and evidence 
of other deductions. Now, these other deductions bear 
on qualities, and not on magnitudes purely. They are, 
then, likely to have been formed on the model of the first, 
and to borrow their force from the fact that, behind 
quality, we see magnitude vaguely showing through. 
We may notice, as a fact, that questions of situation and 
of magnitude are the first that present themselves to our 
activity, those which intelligence externalized in action 
resolves even before reflective intelligence has appeared. 
The savage understands better than the civilized 
man how to judge distances, to determine a direction, 
to retrace by memory the often complicated plan. 
of the road he has travelled, and so to return in a 
straight line to his starting-point! If the animal 
1 Bastian, The Brain as an Organ of the Mind, pp. 214-16. 


does not deduce explicitly, if he does not form 
explicit concepts, neither does he form the idea of a 
homogeneous space. You cannot present this space to 
yourself without introducing, in the same act, a virtual 
geometry which will, of itself, degrade itself into logic. 
All the repugnance that philosophers manifest towards 
this manner of regarding things comes from this, that 
the logical work of the intellect represents to their eyes 
a positive spiritual effort. But, if we understand by 
spirituality a progress to ever new creations, to con- 
clusions incommensurable with the premisses and inde- 
terminable by relation to them, we must say of an idea 
that moves among relations of necessary determination, 
through premisses which contain their conclusion in 
advance, that it follows the inverse direction, that of 
materiality. What appears, from the point of view of 
the intellect, as an effort, is in itself a letting go. And 
while, from the point of view of the intellect, there is a 
pelitio principii in making geometry arise automatically 
from space, and logic from geometry,—on the contrary, 
if space is the ultimate goal of the mind’s movement of 
detension, space cannot be given without positing also 
logic and geometry, which are along the course of the 
movement of which pure spatial intuition is the goal. 
It has not been enough noticed how feeble is the 
reach of deduction in the psychological and moral 
sciences. From a proposition verified by facts, verifiable 
consequences can here be drawn only up to a certain 
point, only in a certain measure. Very soon appeal has 
to be made to common sense, that is to say, to the 
continuous experience of the real, in order to inflect the 
consequences deduced and bend them along the sinu- 
osities of life. Deduction succeeds in things moral only 
metaphorically, so to speak, and just in the measure 


in which the moral is transposable into the physical, 
I should say translatable into spatial symbols. The 
metaphor never goes very far, any more than a curve 
can long be confused with its tangent. Must we not 
be struck by this feebleness of deduction as something 
very strange and even paradoxical? Here is a pure 
operation of the mind, accomplished solely by the 
power of the mind. It seems that, if anywhere it 
should feel at home and evolve at ease, it would be 
among the things of the mind, in the domain of the 
mind. Not at all; it is there that it is immediately 
at the end of its tether. On the contrary, in geo- 
metry, in astronomy, in physics, where we have to do 
with things external to us, deduction is all-powerful ! 
Observation and experience are undoubtedly necessary 
in these sciences to arrive at the principle, that is, to 
discover the aspect under which things must be re- 
garded ; but, strictly speaking, we might, by good 
luck, have hit upon it at once; and, as soon as we 
possess this principle, we may draw from it, at any 
length, consequences which experience will always verify. 
Must we not conclude, therefore, that deduction is an 
operation governed by the properties of matter, moulded 
on the mobile articulations of matter, implicitly given, 
in fact, with the space that underlies matter? As long 
as it turns upon space or spatialized time, it has only to 
let itself go. It is duration that puts spokes in its wheels. 

Deduction, then, does not work unless there be 
spatial intuition behind it. But we may say the same 
of induction. It is not necessary indeed to think 
geometrically, nor even to think at all, in order to 
expect from the same conditions a repetition of the 
same fact. The consciousness of the animal already 



does this work, and indeed, independently of all con- 
sciousness, the living body itself is so constructed that 
it can extract from the successive situations in which 
it finds itself the similarities which interest it, and so 
respond to the stimuli by appropriate reactions. But 
it is a far cry from a mechanical expectation and reaction 
of the body, to induction properly so called, which is 
an intellectual operation. Induction rests on the belief 
that there are causes and effects, and that the same 
effects follow the same causes. Now, if we examine 
this double belief, this is what we find. It implies, in 
the first place, that reality is decomposable into groups, 
which can be practically regarded as isolated and in- 
dependent. If I boil water in a kettle on a stove, the 
operation and the objects that support it are, in reality, 
bound up with a multitude of other objects and a 
multitude of other operations; in the end, I should 
find that our entire solar system is concerned in what 
is being done at this particular point of space. But, 
in a certain measure, and for the special end I am 
pursuing, I may admit that things happen as if the 
group water-kettle-stove were an independent microcosm. 
That is my first affirmation. Now, when I say that 
this microcosm will always behave in the same way, 
that the heat will necessarily, at the end of a certain 
time, cause the boiling of the water, I admit that it is 
sufficient that a certain number of elements of the 
system be given in order that the system should be 
complete ; it completes itself automatically, I am not free 
to complete it in thought as I please. The stove, the 
kettle and the water being given, with a certain interval 
of duration, it seems to me that the boiling, which 
experience showed me yesterday to be the only thing 
wanting to complete the system, will complete it 


to-morrow, no matter when to-morrow may be. What 
is there at the base of this belief? Notice that the belief 
is more or less assured, according as the case may be, but 
that it is forced upon the mind as an absolute necessity 
when the microcosm considered contains only magni- 
tudes. If two numbers be given, I am not free to 
choose their difference. If two sides of a triangle and 
the contained angle are given, the third side arises of 
itself and the triangle completes itself automatically. 
I can, it matters not where and it matters not when, 
trace the same two sides containing the same angle: it 
is evident that the new triangles so formed can be 
superposed on the first, and that consequently the same 
third side will come to complete the system. Now, if 
my certitude is perfect in the case in which I reason on 
pure space determinations, must I not suppose that, in 
the other cases, the certitude is greater the nearer it 
approaches this extreme case? Indeed, may it not be 
the limiting case which 1s seen through all the others 
and which colours them, accordingly as they are more or 
less transparent, with a more or less pronounced tinge 
of geometrical necessity ?* In fact, when I say that 
the water on the fire will boil to-day as it did yesterday, 
and that this is an absolute necessity, I feel vaguely 
that my imagination is placing the stove of yesterday 
on that of to-day, kettle on kettle, water on water, 
duration on duration, and it seems then that the rest 
must coincide also, for the same reason that, when two 
triangles are superposed and two of their sides coincide, 
their third sides coincide also. But my imagination 
acts thus only because it shuts its eyes to two essential 
points. For the system of to-day actually to be 

1 We have dwelt on this point in a former work. See the Essai sur les 
données immédiates de la conscience, Paris, 1889, pp. 155-160. 


superimposed on that of yesterday, the latter must have 
waited for the former, time must have halted, and 
everything become simultaneous: that happens in 
geometry, but in geometry alone. Induction therefore 
implies first that, in the world of the physicist as in 
that of the geometrician, time does not count. But it 
implies also that qualities can be superposed on each 
other like magnitudes. If, in imagination, I place the 
stove and fire of to-day on that of yesterday, I find 
indeed that the form has remained the same ; it suffices, 
for that, that the surfaces and edges coincide; but 
what is the coincidence of two qualities, and how can 
they be superposed one on another in order to ensure 
that they are identical? Yet I extend to the second 
order of reality all that applies to the first. The 
physicist legitimates this operation later on by reducing, 
as far as possible, differences of quality to differences 
of magnitude ; but, prior to all science, I incline to 
liken qualities to quantities, as if I perceived behind 
the qualities, as through a transparency, a geometrical 
mechanism.’ The more complete this transparency, 
the more it seems to me that in the same conditions 
there must be a repetition of the same fact. Our 
inductions are certain, to our eyes, in the exact degree 
in which we make the qualitative differences melt into 
the homogeneity of the space which subtends them, 
so that geometry is the ideal limit of our inductions 
as well as of our deductions. The movement at the 
end of which is spatiality lays down along its course 
the faculty of induction as well as that of deduction, 
in fact, intellectuality entire. 

It creates them in the mind. But it creates also, in 

1 Op. cit. chaps. i. and il. passim. 



things, the “order” which our induction, aided by 
deduction, finds there. This order, on which our 
action leans and in which our intellect recognizes itself, 
‘seems to us marvellous. Not only do the same general 
causes always produce the same general effects, but 
beneath the visible causes and effects our science dis- 
covers an infinity of infinitesimal changes which work 
more and more exactly into one another, the further we 
push the analysis: so much so that, at the end of this 
analysis, matter becomes, it seems to us, geometry itself. 
Certainly, the intellect is right in admiring here the 
growing order in the growing complexity ; both the 
one and the other must have a positive reality for it, 
since it looks upon itself as positive. But things change 
their aspect when we consider the whole of reality as 
an undivided advance forward to successive creations. 
It seems to us, then, that the complexity of the material 
elements and the mathematical order that binds them 
together must arise automatically when within the whole 
a partial interruption or inversion is produced. More- 
over, as the intellect itself is cut out of mind by a 
process of the same kind, it is attuned to this order 
and complexity, and admires them because it recog- 
nizes itself in them. But what is admirable in itself, 
what really deserves to provoke wonder, is the ever- 
renewed creation which reality, whole and undivided, 
accomplishes in advancing ; for no complication of the 
mathematical order with itself, however elaborate we may 
suppose it, can introduce an atom of novelty into the 
world, whereas this power of creation once given (and 
it exists, for we are conscious of it in ourselves, at least 
when we act freely) has only to be diverted from itself 
to relax its tension, only to relax its tension to extend, 
only to extend for the mathematical order of the 


elements so distinguished and the inflexible deter- 
minism connecting them to manifest the interruption 
of the creative act : in fact, inflexible determinism and 
mathematical order are one with this very interruption. 

It is this merely negative tendency that the particular 
laws of the physical world express. None of them, 
taken separately, has objective reality; each is the 
work of an investigator who has regarded things from 
a certain bias, isolated certain variables, applied certain 
conventional units of measurement. And yet there is 
an order approximately mathematical immanent in 
matter, an objective order, which our science approaches 
in proportion to its progress. For if matter is a 
relaxation of the inextensive into the extensive and, 
thereby, of liberty into necessity, it does not indeed 
wholly coincide with pure homogeneous space, yet it is 
constituted by the movement which leads to space, and 
is therefore on the way to geometry. It is true that 
laws of mathematical form will never apply to it com- 
pletely. For that, it would have to be pure space and 
step out of duration. 

We cannot insist too strongly that there is something 
artificial in the mathematical form of a physical law, 
and consequently in our scientific knowledge of things.! 
Our standards of measurement are conventional, and, 
so to say, foreign to the intentions of nature: can we 
suppose that nature has related all the modalities of heat 
to the expansion of the same mass of mercury, or to the 
change of pressure of the same mass of air kept at a 
constant volume? But we may go further. Ina general 
way, measuring is a wholly human operation, which 
implies that we really or ideally superpose two objects 

1 Cf. especially the protound studies of M. Ed. Le Roy in the Revue 
de métaph. et de morale. 


one on another a certain number of times. Nature did 
not dream of this superposition. It does not measure, 
nor does it count. Yet physics counts, measures, 
relates “quantitative” variations to one another to 
obtain laws, and it succeeds. Its success would be 
inexplicable, if the movement which constitutes materi- 
ality were not the same movement which, prolonged 
by us to its end, that is to say, to homogeneous space, 
results in making us count, measure, follow in their 
respective variations terms that are functions one of 
another. To effect this prolongation of the movement, 
our intellect has only to let itself go, for it runs 
naturally to space and mathematics, intellectuality and 
materiality being of the same nature and having been 
produced in the same way. 

If the mathematical order were a positive thing, if 
there were, immanent in matter, laws comparable to 
those of our codes, the success of our science would 
have in it something of the miraculous. What chances 
should we have indeed of finding the standard of nature 
and of isolating exactly, in order to determine their 
reciprocal relations, the very variables which nature has 
chosen? But the success of a science of mathematical 
form would be no less incomprehensible, if matter did 
not already possess everything necessary to adapt itself 
to our formulae. One hypothesis only, therefore, 
remains plausible, namely, that the mathematical order 
is nothing positive, that it is the form toward which 
a certain interruption tends of itself, and that materiality 
consists precisely in an interruption of this kind. We 
shall understand then why our science is contingent, 
relative to the variables it has chosen, relative to the 
order in which it has successively put the problems, 
and why nevertheless it succeeds. It might have been, 


as a whole, altogether different, and yet have succeeded. 
This is so, just because there is no definite system of 
mathematical laws at the base of nature, and because 
mathematics in general represents simply the side to 
which matter inclines. Put one of those little cork dolls 
with leaden feet in any posture, lay it on its back, turn 
it up on its head, throw it into the air: it will always 
stand itself up again, automatically. So likewise with 
matter: we can take it by any end and handle it in 
any way, it will always fall back into some one of our 
mathematical formulae, because it is weighted with 

But the philosopher will perhaps refuse to found a 
theory of knowledge on such considerations. They will 
be repugnant to him, because the mathematical order, 
being order, will appear to him to contain something 
positive. It is in vain that we assert that this order 
produces itself automatically by the interruption of the 
inverse order, that it is this very interruption. The 
idea persists, none the less, that there might be no order 
at all, and that the mathematical order of things, being 
a conquest over disorder, possesses a positive reality. 
In examining this point, we shall see what a prominent 
part the idea of disorder plays in problems relative 
to the theory of knowledge. It does not appear 
explicitly, and that is why it escapes our attention. It 
is, however, with the criticism of this idea that a theory 
of knowledge ought to begin, for if the great problem 
is to know why and how reality submits itself to an 
order, it is because the absence of every kind of order 
appears possible or conceivable. It is this absence of 
order that realists and idealists alike believe they 
are thinking of,—the realist when he speaks of the 


regularity that “ objective” laws actually impose on a 
virtual disorder of nature, the idealist when he supposes 
a “sensuous manifold” which is codrdinated (and con- 
sequently itself without order) under the organizing 
influence of our understanding. The idea of disorder, 
in the sense of absence of order, is then what must be 
analysed first. Philosophy borrows it from daily life. 
And it is unquestionable that, when ordinarily we 
speak of disorder, we are thinking of something. But 
of what? 

It will be seen in the next chapter how hard it is to 
determine the content of a negative idea, and what 
illusions one is liable to, what hopeless difficulties 
philosophy falls into, for not having undertaken this 
task. Difficulties and illusions are generally due to 
this, that we accept as final a manner of expression 
essentially provisional. They are due to our bringing 
into the domain of speculation a procedure made 
for practice. If I choose a volume in my library 
at random, I may put it back on the shelf after 
glancing at it and say, “ This is not verse.” Is this 
what I have really seen in turning over the leaves 
of the book? Obviously not. I have not seen, I 
never shall see, an absence of verse. I have seen 
prose. But as it is poetry I want, I express what I 
find as a function of what I am looking for, and instead 
of saying, ‘“ This is prose,” I say, “ This is not verse.” 
In the same way, if the fancy takes me to read prose, 
and I happen on a volume of verse, I shall say, “ This 
is not prose,” thus expressing the data of my perception, 
which shows me verse, in the language of my expectation 
and attention, which are fixed on the idea of prose and 
will hear of nothing else. Now, if Mons. Jourdain 
heard me, he would infer, no doubt, from my two 


exclamations that prose and poetry are two forms of 
language reserved for books, and that these learned 
forms have come and overlaid a language which was 
neither prose nor verse. Speaking of this thing which 
is neither verse nor prose, he would suppose, moreover, 
that he was thinking of it: it would be only a pseudo- 
idea, however. Let us go further still: the pseudo- 
idea would create a pseudo-problem, if M. Jourdain 
were to ask his professor of philosophy how the prose 
form and the poetry form have been superadded to 
that which possessed neither the one nor the other, 
and if he wished the professor to construct a theory of 
the imposition of these two forms upon this formless 
matter. His question would be absurd, and the 
absurdity would lie in this, that he was hypostasizing 
as the substratum of prose and poetry the simultaneous 
negation of both, forgetting that the negation of the 
one consists in the affirmation of the other. 

Now, suppose that there are two species of order, and 
that these two orders are two contraries within one and 
the same genus. Suppose also that the idea of disorder 
arises in our mind whenever, seeking one of the two 
kinds of order, we find the other. The idea of disorder 
would then havea clear meaning in the current practice 
of life: it would objectify, for the convenience of 
language, the disappointment of a mind that finds 
before it an order different from what it wants, an 
order with which it is not concerned at the moment, 
and which, in this sense, does not exist for it. But the 
idea would not admit a theoretical use. So if we claim, 
notwithstanding, to introduce it into philosophy, we 
shall inevitably lose sight of its true meaning. It 
denotes the absence of a certain order, but 4 the profit 
of another (with which we are not concerned) ; only, as 


it applies to each of the two in turn, and as it even 
goes and comes continually between the two, we take 
it on the way, or rather on the wing, like a shuttlecock 
between two battledores, and treat it as if it represented, 
not the absence of the one or other order as the case 
may be, but the absence of both together—a thing that 
is neither perceived nor conceived, a simple verbal 
entity. So there arises the problem how order is 
imposed on disorder, form on matter. In analysing 
the idea of disorder thus subtilized, we shall see that 
it represents nothing at all, and at the same time the 
problems that have been raised around it will vanish. 
It is true that we must begin by distinguishing, 
and even by opposing one to the other, two kinds of 
order which we generally confuse. As this confusion 
has created the principal difficulties of the problem of 
knowledge, it will not be useless to dwell once more 
on the marks by which the two orders are distinguished. 
In a general way, reality is ordered exactly to the 
degree in which it satisfies our thought. Order is 
therefore a certain agreement between subject and object. 
It is the mind finding itself again in things. But the 
mind, we said, can go in two opposite ways. Sometimes 
it follows its natural direction : there is then progress in 
the form of tension, continuous creation, free activity. 
Sometimes it inverts it, and this inversion, pushed to 
the end, leads to extension, to the necessary reciprocal 
determination of elements externalised each by relation 
to the others, in short, to geometrical mechanism. 
Now, whether experience seems to us to adopt the 
first direction or whether it is drawn in the direction 
of the second, in both cases we say there is order, 
for in the two processes the mind finds itself again. 
The confusion between them is therefore natural. To 


escape it, different names would have to be given to 
the two kinds of order, and that is not easy, because of 
the variety and variability of the forms they take. The 
order of the second kind may be defined as geometry, 
which is its extreme limit ; more generally, it is that 
kind of order that is concerned whenever a relation of 
necessary determination is found between causes and 
effects. It evokes ideas of inertia, of passivity, of 
automatism. As to the first kind of order, it oscillates 
no doubt around finality ; and yet we cannot define it 
as finality, for it is sometimes above, sometimes below. 
In its highest forms, it is more than finality, for of 
a free action or a work of art we may say that they 
show a perfect order, and yet they can only be expressed 
in terms of ideas approximately, and after the event. 
Life in its entirety, regarded as a creative evolution, is 
something analogous; it transcends finality, if we 
understand by finality the realization of an idea con- 
ceived or conceivable in advance. The category of 
finality is therefore too narrow for life in its entirety. 
It is, on the other hand, often too wide for a particular 
manifestation of life taken separately. Be that as it 
may, it is with the vita/ that we have here to do, and the 
whole present study strives to prove that the vital is 
in the direction of the voluntary. We may say then 
that this first kind of order is that of the vital or of 
the willed, in opposition to the second, which is that of 
the inert and the automatic. Common sense instinctively 
distinguishes between the two kinds of order, at least 
in the extreme cases ; instinctively, also, it brings them 
together. We say of astronomical phenomena that 
they manifest an admirable order, meaning by this 
that they can be foreseen mathematically. And we 
find an order no less admirable in a symphony of 


Beethoven, which is genius, originality, and therefore 
unforeseeability itself. 

But it is exceptional for order of the first kind to 
take so distinct a form. Ordinarily, it presents features 
that we have every interest in confusing with those of 
the opposite order. It is quite certain, for instance, 
that if we could view the evolution of life in its entirety, 
the spontaneity of its movement and the unforesee- 
ability of its procedures would thrust themselves on 
our attention. But what we meet in our daily experi- 
ence is a certain determinate living being, certain special 
manifestations of life, which repeat, a/most, forms and 
facts already known ; indeed, the similarity of structure 
that we find everywhere between what generates and 
what is generated—a similarity that enables us to 
include any number of living individuals in the same 
group—is to our eyes the very type of the generic : 
the inorganic genera seem to us to take living genera 
as models. Thus the vital order, such as it is offered to 
us piecemeal in experience, presents the same character 
and performs the same function as the physical order : 
both cause experience to repeat itse/f, both enable our 
mind to generalize. In reality, this character has 
entirely different origins in the two cases, and even 
opposite meanings. In the second case, the type of 
this character, its ideal limit, as also its foundation, is 
the geometrical necessity in virtue of which the same 
components give the same resultant. In the first case, 
this character involves, on the contrary, the interven- 
tion of something which manages to obtain the same 
total effect although the infinitely complex elementary 
causes may be quite different. We insisted on this 
last point in our first chapter, when we showed how 
identical structures are to be met with on independent 


lines of evolution. But, without looking so far, we 
may presume that the reproduction only of the type of 
the ancestor by his descendants is an entirely different 
thing from the repetition of the same composition of 
forces which yields an identical resultant. When we 
think of the infinity of infinitesimal elements and of 
infinitesimal causes that concur in the genesis of a 
living being, when we reflect that the absence or the 
deviation of one of them would spoil everything, the 
first impulse of the mind is to consider this army of 
little workers as watched over bya skilled foreman, the 
“vital principle,’’ which is ever repairing faults, cor- 
recting effects of neglect or absent-mindedness, putting 
things back in place: this is how we try to express the 
difference between the physical and the vital order, the 
former making the same combination of causes give 
the same combined effect, the latter securing the 
constancy of the effect even when there is some wavering 
in the causes. But that is only a comparison ; on 
reflection, we find that there can be no foreman, for 
the very simple reason that there are no workers. 
The causes and elements that physico-chemical analysis 
discovers are real causes and elements, no doubt, as 
far as the facts of organic destruction are concerned ; 
they are then limited in number. But vital phenomena, 
properly so called, or facts of organic creation open up 
to us, when we analyse them, the perspective of an 
analysis passing away to infinity: whence it may be 
inferred that the manifold causes and elements are here 
only views of the mind, attempting an ever closer and 
closer imitation of theoperation of nature, while the opera- 
tion imitated is an indivisible act. The likeness between 
individuals of the same species has thus an entirely 
different meaning, an entirely different origin, to that 


of the likeness between complex effects obtained by the 
same composition of the same causes. But in the one 
case as in the other, there is /keness, and consequently 
possible generalization. And as that is all that interests 
us in practice, since our daily life is and must be an 
expectation of the same things and the same situations, 
it is natural that this common character, essential from 
the point of view of our action, should bring the two 
orders together, in spite of a merely internal diversity 
between them which interests speculation only. Hence 
the idea of a general order of nature, everywhere the 
same, hovering over life and over matter alike. Hence 
our habit of designating by the same word and represent- 
ing in the same way the existence of Jaws in the domain 
of inert matter and that of gezera in the domain of life. 

Now, it will be found that this confusion is the 
origin of most of the difficulties raised by the problem 
of knowledge, among the ancients as well as among the 
moderns. ‘The generality of laws and that of genera 
having been designated by the same word and subsumed 
under the same idea, the geometrical order and the 
vital order are accordingly confused together. Ac- 
cording to the point of view, the generality of laws is 
explained by that of genera, or that of genera by that 
of laws. The first view is characteristic of ancient 
thought ; the second belongs to modern philosophy. 
But in both ancient and modern philosophy the idea of 
“ generality ”’ is an equivocal idea, uniting in its denota- 
tion and in its connotation incompatible objects and 
elements. In both there are grouped under the same 
concept two kinds of order which are alike only in the 
facility they give to our action on things. We bring 
together the two terms in virtue of a quite external 
likeness, which justifies no doubt their designation by 


the same word for practice, but which does not authorize 
us at all, in the speculative domain, to confuse them in 
the same definition. 

The ancients, indeed, did not ask why nature 
submits to laws, but why it is ordered according to 
genera. The idea of genus corresponds more especially 
to an objective reality in the domain of life, where it 
expresses an unquestionable fact, heredity. Indeed, 
there can only be genera where there are individual 
objects ; now, while the organized being is cut out from 
the general mass of matter by his very organization, 
that is to say naturally, it is our perception which cuts 
inert matter into distinct bodies. It is guided in this 
by the interests of action, by the nascent reactions that 
our body indicates—that is, as we have shown else- 
where,’ by the potential genera that are trying to gain 
existence. In this, then, genera and _ individuals 
determine one another by a semi-artificial operation 
entirely relative to our future action on things. Never- 
theless the ancients did not hesitate to put all genera 
in the same rank, to attribute the same absolute 
existence to all of them. Reality thus being a system 
of genera, it is to the generality of the genera (that is, 
in effect, to the generality expressive of the vital order) 
that the generality of laws itself had to be brought. It 
is interesting, in this respect, to compare the Aristotelian 
theory of the fall of bodies with the explanation 
furnished by Galileo. Aristotle is concerned solely 
with the concepts “ high” and “low,” ‘ own proper 
place” as distinguished from “place occupied,” “natural 
movement’ and “ forced movement” ;? the physical 

1 Matiere et mémoire, chapters iii. and iv. 
2 See in particular Phys. iv. 215 a2; v. 230 b 123; vill. 255 a2; and 
De caelo, iv. 1-5 ; ii. 296 b 27; Iv. 308 a 34. 


law in virtue of which the stone falls expresses for 
him that the stone regains the “ natural place” of 
all stones, to wit, the earth. The stone, in his view, 
is not quite stone so long as it is not in its normal 
place ; in falling back into this place it aims at complet- 
ing itself, like a living being that grows, thus realizing 
fully the essence of the genus stone.’ If this concep- 
tion of the physical law were exact, the law would no 
longer be a mere relation established by the mind ; the 
subdivision of matter into bodies would no longer be 
relative to our faculty of perceiving ; all bodies would 
have the same individuality as living bodies, and the 
laws of the physical universe would express relations 
of real kinship between real genera. We know what 
kind of physics grew out of this, and how, for having 
believed in a science unique and final, embracing the 
totality of the real and at one with the absolute, the 
ancients were confined, in fact, to a more or less clumsy 
interpretation of the physical in terms of the vital. 

But there is the same confusion in the moderns, 
with this difference, however, that the relation between 
the two terms is inverted : laws are no longer reduced 
to genera, but genera to laws ; and science, still supposed 
to be uniquely one, becomes altogether relative, instead 
of being, as the ancients wished, altogether at one with 
the absolute. A noteworthy fact is the eclipse of the 
problem of genera in modern philosophy. Our theory 
of knowledge turns almost entirely on the question of 
laws: genera are left to make shift with laws as best 
they can. The reason is, that modern philosophy has 
its point of departure in the great astronomical and 
physical discoveries of modern times. The laws of 

1 De caelo, iv. 310 a 34 7d 8 els roy abrod rhwov pépecOa Ekacrov rd 

els rd avrod eldds éore pépec Bau. 


Kepler and of Galileo have remained for it the ideal and 
unique type of all knowledge. Now, a law isa relation 
between things or between facts. More precisely, a 
law of mathematical form expresses the fact that a 
certain magnitude is a function of one or several other 
variables appropriately chosen. Now, the choice of the 
variable magnitudes, the distribution of nature into 
objects and into facts, has already something of the 
contingent and the conventional. But, admitting that 
the choice is hinted at, if not prescribed, by experience, 
the law remains none the less a relation, and a relation 
is essentially a comparison ; it has objective reality only 
for an intelligence that represents to itself several terms 
at the same time. This intelligence may be neither 
mine nor yours: a science which bears on laws may 
therefore be an objective science, which experience 
contains in advance and which we simply make it 
disgorge ; but it is none the less true that a comparison 
of some kind must be effected here, impersonally if not 
by any one in particular, and that an experience made 
of laws, that is, of terms re/ated to other terms, is an 
experience made of comparisons, which, before we 
receive it, has already had to pass through an atmo- 
sphere of intellectuality. The idea of a science and of 
an experience entirely relative to the human under- 
standing was therefore implicitly contained in the 
conception of a science one and integral, composed 
of laws: Kant only brought it to light. But this 
conception is the result of an arbitrary confusion 
between the generality of laws and that of genera. 
Though an intelligence be necessary to condition terms 
by relation to each other, we may conceive that in 
certain cases the terms themselves may exist inde- 
pendently. And if, beside relations of term to term, 


experience also presents to us independent terms, the 
living genera being something quite different from 
systems of laws, one half, at least, of our knowledge 
bears on the “ thing-in-itself,” the very reality. This 
knowledge may be very difficult, just because it no 
longer builds up its own object and is obliged, on the 
contrary, to submit to it; but, however little it cuts 
into its object, it is into the absolute itself that it bites. 
We may go further : the other half of knowledge is no 
longer so radically, so definitely relative as certain 
philosophers say, if we can establish that it bears on 
a reality of inverse order, a reality which we always 
express in mathematical laws, that is to say in relations 
that imply comparisons, but which lends itself to this 
work only because it is weighted with spatiality and 
consequently with geometry. Be that as it may, it is 
the confusion of two kinds of order that lies behind 
the relativism of the moderns, as it lay behind the 
dogmatism of the ancients. 

We have said enough to mark the origin of this 
confusion. It is due to the fact that the “vital” order, 
which is essentially creation, is manifested to us less in 
its essence than in some of its accidents, those which 
imitate the physical and geometrical order ; like it, they 
present to us repetitions that make. generalization 
possible, and in that we have all that interests us. 
There is no doubt that life as a whole is an evolution, 
that is, an unceasing transformation. But life can 
progress only by means of the living, which are its 
depositaries. Innumerable living beings, almost alike, 
have to repeat each other in space and in time for the 
novelty they are working out to grow and mature. 
It is like a book that advances towards a new 
edition by going through thousands of reprints with 


thousands of copies. There is, however, this difference 
between the two cases, that the successive impressions 
are identical, as well as the simultaneous copies of the 
same impression, whereas representatives of one and 
the same species are never entirely the same, either in 
different points of space or at different moments of 
time. Heredity does not only transmit characters ; it 
transmits also the impetus in virtue of which the 
characters are modified, and this impetus is vitality 
itself. That is why we say that the repetition which 
serves as the base of our generalizations is essential in 
the physical order, accidental in the vital order. The 
physical order is “automatic”’ ; the vital order is, I will 
not say voluntary, but analogous to the order “ willed.” 

Now, as soon as we have clearly distinguished 
between the order that is “ willed” and the order that 
is “automatic,” the ambiguity that underlies the idea 
of disorder is dissipated, and, with it, one of the principal 
difficulties of the problem of knowledge. 

The main problem of the theory of knowledge is 
to know how science is possible, that is to say, in effect, 
why there is order and not disorder in things. That 
order exists is a fact. But, on the other hand, disorder, 
which appears to us to be less than order, is, it seems, of 
right. The existence of order is then a mystery to be 
cleared up, at any rate a problem to be solved. More 
simply, when we undertake to found order, we regard 
it as contingent, if not in things, at least as viewed 
by the mind: of a thing that we do not judge to 
be contingent we do not require an explanation. If 
order did not appear to us as a conquest over some- 
thing, or as an addition to something (which some- 
thing is thought to be the “ absence of order ’”’), ancient 
realism would not have spoken of a “matter” to 


which the Idea superadded itself, nor would modern 
idealism have supposed a “sensuous manifold” that 
the understanding organizes into nature. Now, it 
is unquestionable that all order is contingent, and 
conceived as such. But contingent in relation to what ? 

The reply, to our thinking, is not doubtful. An 
order is contingent, and seems so, in relation to the 
inverse order, as verse is contingent in relation to prose 
and prose in relation to verse. But, just as all speech 
which is not prose is verse and necessarily conceived 
as verse, just as all speech which is not verse is prose 
and necessarily conceived as prose, so any state of 
things that is not one of the two orders is the other and 
is necessarily conceived as the other. But it may happen 
that we do not realize what we are actually thinking 
of, and perceive the idea really present to our mind 
only through a mist of affective states. Any one can 
be convinced of this by considering the use we make of 
the idea of disorder in daily life. When I enter a room 
and pronounce it to be “in disorder,”’ what do I mean? 
The position of each object is explained by the 
automatic movements of the person who has slept in the 
room, or by the efficient causes, whatever they may be, 
that have caused each article of furniture, clothing, etc., 
to be where it is: the order, in the second sense of the 
word, is perfect. But it is order of the first kind that 
I am expecting, the order that a methodical person 
consciously puts into his life, the willed order and not 
the automatic: so I call the absence of this order 
“disorder.” At bottom, all there is that is real, 
perceived and even conceived, in this absence of one of 
the two kinds of order, is the presence of the other. 
But the second is indifferent to me, [ am interested only 
in the first, and I express the presence of the second 


as a function of the first, instead of expressing it, so to 
speak, as a function of itself, by saying it is disorder. 
Inversely, when we affirm that we are imagining a 
chaos, that is to say a state of things in which the 
physical world no longer obeys laws, what are we 
thinking of ? We imagine facts that appear and 
disappear capriciously. First we think of the physical 
universe as we know it, with effects and causes well 
proportioned to each other; then, by a series of 
arbitrary decrees, we augment, diminish, suppress, so 
as to obtain what we call disorder. In reality we have 
substituted wi// for the mechanism of nature ; we have 
replaced the “automatic order’’ by a multitude of 
elementary wills, just to the extent that we imagine 
the apparition or vanishing of phenomena. No doubt, 
for all these little wills to constitute a “ willed order,” 
they must have accepted the direction of a higher will. 
But, on looking closely at them, we see that that is 
just what they do: our own will is there, which 
objectifies itself in each of these capricious wills in 
turn, and takes good care not to connect the same with 
the same, nor to permit the effect to be proportional 
to the cause—in fact makes one simple intention hover 
over the whole of the elementary volitions. Thus, 
here again, the absence of one of the two orders 
consists in the presence of the other. In analysing the 
idea of chance, which is closely akin to the idea of 
disorder, we find the same elements. When the 
wholly mechanical play of the causes which stop the 
wheel on a number makes me win, and consequently 
acts like a good genius, careful of my interests, or 
when the wholly mechanical force of the wind tears a 
tile off the roof and throws it on to my head, that is 
to say acts like a bad genius, conspiring against my 


person: in both cases I find a mechanism where I 
should have looked for, where, indeed, it seems as if 
I ought to have found, an intention. That is what I 
express in speaking of chance. And of an anarchi- 
cal world, in which phenomena succeed each other 
capriciously, I should say again that it is a realm of 
chance, meaning that I find before me wills, or rather 
decrees, when what I am expecting is mechanism. 
Thus is explained the singular vacillation of the mind 
when it tries to define chance. Neither efficient cause 
nor final cause can furnish the definition sought. The 
mind swings to and fro, unable to rest, between the 
idea of an absence of final cause and that of an absence 
of efficient cause, each of these definitions sending it 
back to the other. The problem remains insoluble, in 
fact, so long as the idea of chance is regarded as a 
pure idea, without mixture of feeling. But, in reality, 
chance merely objectifies the state of mind of one who, 
expecting one of the two kinds of order, finds himself 
confronted with the other. Chance and disorder are 
therefore necessarily conceived as relative. So if we 
wish to represent them to ourselves as absolute, we 
perceive that we are going to and fro like a shuttle 
between the two kinds of order, passing into the one just 
at the moment at which we might catch ourselves in the 
other, and that the supposed absence of all order is really 
the presence of both, with, besides, the swaying of a 
mind that cannot rest finally in either. Neither in things 
nor in our idea of things can there be any question of 
presenting this disorder as the substratum of order, 
since it implies the two kinds of order and is made of 
their combination. 

But our intelligence is not stopped by this. Bya 
simple sic jubeo it posits a disorder which is an “ absence 


of order.” In so doing it thinks a word or a set of 
words, nothing more. If it seeks to attach an idea to 
the word, it finds that disorder may indeed be the 
negation of order, but that this negation is then the 
implicit affirmation of the presence of the opposite 
order, which we shut our eyes to because it does not 
interest us, or which we evade by denying the second 
order in its turn—that is, at bottom, by re-establishing 
the first. How can we speak, then, of an incoherent 
diversity which an understanding organizes? It is no 
use for us to say that no one supposes this incoherence 
to be realized or realizable: when we speak of it, we 
believe we are thinking of it ; now, in analysing the idea 
actually present, we find, as we said before, only the dis- 
appointment of the mind confronted with an order that 
does not interest it, or a swaying of the mind between 
two kinds of order, or, finally, the idea pure and simple 
of the empty word that we have created by joining a 
negative prefix to a word which itself signifies some- 
thing. But it is this analysis that we neglect to make. 
We omit it, precisely because it does not occur to us 
to distinguish two kinds of order that are irreducible 
to one another. 

We said, indeed, that all order necessarily appears 
as contingent. If there are two kinds of order, this 
contingency of order is explained: one of the forms 
is contingent in relation to the other. Where I find 
the geometrical order, the vital was possible ; where 
the order is vital, it might have been geometrical. 
But suppose that the order is everywhere of the same 
kind, and simply admits of degrees which go from the 
geometrical to the vital: if a determinate order still 
appears to me to be contingent, and can no longer 
be so by relation to an order of another kind, I shall 


necessarily believe that the order is contingent by 
relation to an absence of itself, that is to say by relation 
to a state of things “in which there is no order at all.” 
And this state of things I shall believe that I am 
thinking of, because it is implied, it seems, in the very 
contingency of order, which is an unquestionable fact. 
I shall therefore place at the summit of the hierarchy 
the vital order; then, as a diminution or lower 
complication of it, the geometrical order ; and finally, 
at the bottom of all, an absence of order, incoherence 
itself, on which order is superposed. This is why 
incoherence has the effect on me of a word behind which 
there must be something real, if not in things, at least in 
thought. But if I observe that the state of things implied 
by the contingency of a determinate order is simply 
the presence of the contrary order, and if by this very 
fact I posit two kinds of order, each the inverse of the 
other, I perceive that no intermediate degrees can be 
imagined between the two orders, and that there is no 
going down from the two orders to the “ incoherent.” 
Either the incoherent is only a word, devoid of meaning, 
or, if I give it a meaning, it is on condition of putting 
incoherence midway between the two orders, and not 
below both of them. There is not first the in- 
coherent, then the geometrical, then the vital ; there is 
only the geometrical and the vital, and then, by a 
swaying of the mind between them, the idea of the 
incoherent. To speak of an uncodrdinated diversity 
to which order is superadded is therefore to commit a 
veritable petitio principii ; for in imagining the unco- 
ordinated we really posit an order, or rather two. 

This long analysis was necessary to show how the 
real can pass from tension to extension and from 


freedom to mechanical necessity by way of inversion. 
It was not enough to prove that this relation between 
the two terms is suggested to us, at once, by con- 
sciousness and by sensible experience. It was necessary 
to prove that the geometrical order has no need of 
explanation, being purely and simply the suppression 
of the inverse order. And, for that, it was indispensable 
to prove that suppression is always a substitution 
and is even necessarily conceived as such: it is the 
requirements of practical life alone that suggest to us 
here a way of speaking that deceives us both as to 
what happens in things and as to what is present to 
our thought. We must now examine more closely the 
inversion whose consequences we have just described. 
What, then, is the principle that has only to let go its 
tension,—may we say to defend,—in order to extend, the 
interruption of the cause here being equivalent to a 
reversal of the effect ? 

For want of a better word we have called it 
consciousness. But we do not mean the narrowed 
consciousness that functions in each of us. Our own 
consciousness is the consciousness of a certain living 
being, placed in a certain point of space ; and though it 
does indeed move in the same direction as its principle, 
it is continually drawn the opposite way, obliged, 
though it goes forward, to look behind. This retro- 
spective vision is, as we have shown, the natural 
function of the intellect, and consequently of distinct 
consciousness. In order that our consciousness shall 
coincide with something of its principle, it must detach 
itself from the a/ready-made and attach itself to the 
being-made. It needs that, turning back on itself 
and twisting on itself, the faculty of seeing should be 
made to be one with the act of wi//ing,—a painful 


effort which we can make suddenly, doing violence 
to our nature, but cannot sustain more than a few 
moments. In free action, when we contract our whole 
being in order to thrust it forward, we have the more 
or less clear consciousness of motives and of impelling 
forces, and even, at rare moments, of the becoming by 
which they are organized into an act: but the pure 
willing, the current that runs through this matter, 
communicating life to it, is a thing which we hardly 
feel, which at most we brush lightly as it passes. Let 
us try, however, to install ourselves within it, if only fora 
moment ; even then it is an individual and fragmentary 
will that we grasp. To get to the principle of all life, 
as also of all materiality, we must go further still. Is 
it impossible? No, by no means; the history of 
philosophy is there to bear witness. There is no 
durable system that is not, at least in some of its parts, 
vivified by intuition. Dialectic is necessary to put 
intuition to the proof, necessary also in order that 
intuition should break itself up into concepts and 
so be propagated to other men ; but all it does, often 
enough, is to develop the result of that intuition which 
transcends it. The truth is, the two procedures are of 
opposite direction : the same effort, by which ideas are 
connected with ideas, causes the intuition which the 
ideas were storing up to vanish. The philosopher is 
obliged to abandon intuition, once he has received from 
it the impetus, and to rely on himself to carry on the 
movement by pushing the concepts one after another. . 
But he soon feels he has lost foothold ; he must come 
into touch with intuition again ; he must undo most of 
what he has done. In short, dialectic is what ensures 
the agreement of our thought with itself. But by 
dialectic—which is only a relaxation of intuition—many 


different agreements are possible, while there is only 
one truth. Intuition, if it could be prolonged beyond 
a few instants, would not only make the philosopher 
agree with his own thought, but also all philosophers 
with each other. Such as it is, fugitive and incomplete, 
it is, in each system, what is worth more than the system 
and survives it. The object of philosophy would be 
reached if this intuition could be sustained, generalized 
and, above all, assured of external points of reference in 
order not to goastray. To that end a continual coming 
and going is necessary between nature and mind. 
When we put back our being into our will, and 
our will itself into the impulsion it prolongs, we 
understand, we feel, that reality is a perpetual growth, 
a creation pursued without end. Our will already 
performs this miracle. Every human work in which 
there is invention, every voluntary act in which 
there is freedom, every movement of an organism that 
manifests spontaneity, brings something new into the 
world. True, these are only creations of form. How 
could they be anything else? We are not the vital 
current itself ; we are this current already loaded with 
matter, that is, with congealed parts of its own 
substance which it carries along its course. In the 
composition of a work of genius, as in a simple free 
decision, we do, indeed, stretch the spring of our 
activity to the utmost and thus create what no mere 
assemblage of materials could have given (what 
assemblage of curves already known can ever be 
equivalent to the pencil-stroke of a great artist ?), but 
there are, none the less, elements here that pre-exist 
and survive their organization. But if a simple arrest 
of the action that generates form could constitute 
matter (are not the original lines drawn by the artist 


themselves already the fixation and, as it were, 
congealment of a movement ?), a creation of matter 
would be neither incomprehensible nor inadmissible. 
For we seize from within, we live at every instant, a 
creation of form, and it is just in those cases in which 
the form is pure, and in which the creative current is 
momentarily interrupted, that there is a creation of 
matter. Consider the letters of the alphabet that enter 
into the composition of everything that has ever been 
written : we do not conceive that new letters spring 
up and come to join themselves to the others in order 
to make a new poem. But that the poet creates the 
poem and that human thought is thereby made richer, 
we understand very well: this creation is a simple act 
of the mind, and action has only to make a pause, 
instead of continuing into a new creation, in order that, 
of itself, it may break up into words which dissociate 
themselves into letters which are added to all the letters 
there are already in the world. Thus, that the number 
of atoms composing the material universe at a given 
moment should increase, runs counter to our habits of 
mind, contradicts the whole of our experience; but 
that a reality of quite another order, which con- 
trasts with the atom as the thought of the poet with 
the letters of the alphabet, should increase by sudden 
additions, is not inadmissible ; and the reverse of each 
addition might indeed be a world, which we then 
represent to ourselves, symbolically, as an assemblage 
of atoms. 

The mystery that spreads over the existence of the 
universe comes in great part from this, that we want the 
genesis of it to have been accomplished at one stroke or 
the whole of matter to be eternal. Whether we speak of 
creation or posit an uncreated matter, it is the totality 


of the universe that we are considering at once. At the 
root of this habit of mind lies the prejudice which we 
will analyse in our next chapter, the idea, common to 
materialists and to their opponents, that there is no 
really acting duration, and that the absolute—matter or 
mind—can have no place in concrete time, in the time 
which we feel to be the very stuff of our life. From 
which it follows that everything is given once for all, 
and that it is necessary to posit from all eternity either 
material multiplicity itself, or the act creating this 
multiplicity, given in block in the divine essence. 
Once this prejudice is eradicated, the idea of creation 
becomes more clear, for it is merged in that of growth. 
But it is no longer then of the universe in its totality 
that we must speak. 

Why should we speak of it? The universe is an 
assemblage of solar systems which we have every 
reason to believe analogous to our own. No doubt 
they are not absolutely independent of one another. 
Our sun radiates heat and light beyond the farthest 
planet, and, on the other hand, our entire solar system 
is moving in a definite direction as if it were drawn. 
There is, then, a bond between the worlds. But this 
bond may be regarded as infinitely loose in comparison 
with the mutual dependence which unites the parts of 
the same world among themselves; so that it is not 
artificially, for reasons of mere convenience, that we 
isolate our solar system: nature itself invites us to 
isolate it. As living beings, we depend on the planet 
on which we are, and on the sun that provides for it, 
but on nothing else. As thinking beings, we may 
apply the laws of our physics to our own world, and 
extend them to each of the worlds taken separately ; 
but nothing tells us that they apply to the entire 


universe, nor even that such an affirmation has any 
meaning ; for the universe is not made, but is being 
made continually. It is growing, perhaps indefinitely, 
by the addition of new worlds. 

Let us extend, then, to the whole of our solar 
system the two most general laws of our science, 
the principle of conservation of energy and that of its 
degradation,—limiting them, however, to this relatively 
closed system and to other systems relatively closed. 
Let us see what will follow. We must remark, first 
of all, that these two principles have not the same 
metaphysical scope. The first is a quantitative law, 
and consequently relative, in part, to our methods of 
measurement. It says that, in a system presumed to 
be closed, the total energy, that is to say the sum of its 
kinetic and potential energy, remains constant. Now, if 
there were only kinetic energy in the world, or even if 
there were, besides kinetic energy, only one single kind 
of potential energy, but no more, the artifice of measure- 
ment would not make the law artificial. The law of 
the conservation of energy would express indeed that 
something 1s preserved in constant quantity. But there 
are, in fact, energies of various kinds,’ and the measure- 
ment of each of them has evidently been so chosen as 
to justify the principle of conservation of energy. Con- 
vention, therefore, plays a large part in this principle, 
although there is undoubtedly, between the variations 
of the different energies composing one and the same 
system, a mutual dependence which is just what has 
made the extension of the principle possible by measure- 
ments suitably chosen. If, therefore, the philosopher 
applies this principle to the solar system complete, he 

1 On these differences of quality see the work of Duhem, L’ Evolution de 
la mécanique, Paris, 1905, pp. 197 ff. 


must at least soften its outlines. The law of the con- 
servation of energy cannot here express the objective 
permanence of a certain quantity of a certain thing, 
but rather the necessity for every change that is brought 
about to be counterbalanced in some way by a change 
in an opposite direction. That is to say, even if it 
governs the whole of our solar system, the law of the 
conservation of energy is concerned with the relation- 
ship of a fragment of this world to another fragment 
rather than with the nature of the whole. 

It is otherwise with the second principle of thermo- 
dynamics. The law of the degradation of energy 
does not bear essentially on magnitudes. No doubt 
the first idea of it arose, in the thought of Carnot, 
out of certain quantitative considerations on the yield 
of thermic machines. Unquestionably, too, the terms 
in which Clausius generalized it were mathematical, 
and a calculable magnitude, “entropy,’’ was, in fact, 
the final conception to which he was led. Such pre- 
cision is necessary for practical applications. But the 
law might have been vaguely conceived, and, if 
absolutely necessary, it might have been roughly 
formulated, even though no one had ever thought 
of measuring the different energies of the physical 
world, even though the concept of energy had not 
been created. Essentially, it expresses the fact that 
all physical changes have a tendency to be degraded 
into heat, and that heat tends to be distributed among 
bodies in a uniform manner. In this less precise 
form, it becomes independent of any convention ; it 
is the most metaphysical of the laws of physics, 
since it points out without interposed symbols, without 
artificial devices of measurement, the direction in 
which the world is going. It tells us that changes that 



are visible and heterogeneous will be more and more 
diluted into changes that are invisible and homogeneous, 
and that the instability to which we owe the richness 
and variety of the changes taking place in our solar 
system will gradually give way to the relative stability 
of elementary vibrations continually and perpetually 
repeated. Just so with a man who keeps up his 
strength as he grows old, but spends it less and less 
in actions, and comes, in the end, to employ it entirely 
in making his lungs breathe and his heart beat. 

From this point of view, a world like our solar 
system is seen to be ever exhausting something of the 
mutability it contains. In the beginning, it had the 
maximum of possible utilization of energy: this 
mutability has gone on diminishing unceasingly. 
Whence does it come? We might at first suppose 
that it has come from some other point of space, but 
the difficulty is only set back, and for this external 
source of mutability the same question springs up. 
True, it might be added that the number of worlds 
capable of passing mutability to each other is unlimited, 
that the sum of mutability contained in the universe is 
infinite, and that there is therefore no ground on which 
to seek its origin or to foresee its end. A hypothesis 
of this kind is as irrefutable as it is indemonstrable ; 
but to speak of an infinite universe is to admit a 
perfect coincidence of matter with abstract space, and 
consequently an absolute externality of all the parts of 
matter in relation to one another. We have seen above 
what we must think of this theory, and how difficult 
it is to reconcile with the idea of a reciprocal influence 
of all the parts of matter on one another, an influence 
to which indeed it itself makes appeal. Again it might 
be supposed that the general instability has arisen 



from a general state of stability ; that the period in 
which we now are, and in which the utilizable energy is 
diminishing, has been preceded by a period in which 
the mutability was increasing, and that the alternations 
of increase and diminution succeed each other for ever. 
This hypothesis is theoretically conceivable, as has 
been demonstrated quite recently ; but, according to 
the calculations of Boltzmann, the mathematical im- 
probability of it passes all imagination and practically 
amounts to absolute impossibility. In reality, the 
problem remains insoluble as long as we keep on the 
ground of physics, for the physicist is obliged to attach 
energy to extended particles, and, even if he regards the 
particles only as reservoirs of energy, he remains in 
space: he would belie his réle if he sought the origin 
of these energies in an extra-spatial process. It is 
there, however, in our opinion, that it must be sought. 

Is it extension in general that we are considering iz 
abstracto? Extension, we said, appears only as a sension 
which is interrupted. Or, are we considering the con- 
crete reality that fills this extension? The order which 
reigns there, and which is manifested by the laws of 
nature, is an order which must be born of itself when 
the inverse order is suppressed ; a detension of the will 
would produce precisely this suppression. Lastly, we 
find that the direction, which this reality takes, suggests 
to us the idea of a thing unmaking itself ; such, no doubt, 
is one of the essential characters of materiality. What 
conclusion are we to draw from all this, if not that the 
process by which this thing makes itse/f is directed in a 
contrary way to that of physical processes, and that it 
is therefore, by its very definition, immaterial? The 
vision we have of the material world is that of a weight 

4 Boltzmann, Vorlesungen aber Gastheorie, Leipzig, 1898, pp. 253 ff. 


which falls: no image drawn from matter, properly 
so called, will ever give us the idea of the weight 
rising. But this conclusion will come home to us with 
still greater force if we press nearer to the concrete 
reality, and if we consider, no longer only matter in 
general, but, within this matter, living bodies. 

All our analyses show us, in life, an effort to remount 
the incline that matter descends. In that, they reveal 
to us the possibility, the necessity even of a process 
the inverse of materiality, creative of matter by its in- 
terruption alone. The life that evolves on the surface 
of our planet is indeed attached to matter. If it were 
pure consciousness, @ fortiori if it were supraconscious- 
ness, it would be pure creative activity. In fact, it is 
riveted to an organism that subjects it to the general 
laws of inert matter. But everything happens as if it 
were doing its utmost to set itself free from these laws. 
It has not the power to reverse the direction of physical 
changes, such as the principle of Carnot determines it. 
It does, however, behave absolutely as a force would 
behave which, left to itself, would work in the inverse 
direction. Incapable of stopping the course of material 
changes downwards, it succeeds in retarding it. The 
evolution of life really continues, as we have shown, 
an initial impulsion: this impulsion, which has deter- 
mined the development of the chlorophyllian function 
in the plant and of the sensori-motor system in the 
animal, brings life to more and more efficient acts by 
the fabrication and use of more and more powerful 
explosives. Now, what do these explosives represent 
if not a storing-up of the solar energy, the degradation 
of which energy is thus provisionally suspended on 
some of the points where it was being poured forth? 
The usable energy which the explosive conceals will be 


expended, of course, at the moment of the explosion ; 
but it would have been expended sooner if an organism 
had not happened to be there to arrest its dissipation, 
in order to retain it and save it up. As we see it to-day, 
at the point to which it was brought by a scission of 
the mutually complementary tendencies which it con- 
tained within itself, life is entirely dependent on the 
chlorophyllian function of the plant. This means that, 
looked at in its initial impulsion, before any scission, 
life was a tendency to accumulate in a reservoir, as do 
especially the green parts of vegetables, with a view 
to an instantaneous effective discharge, like that which 
an animal brings about, something that would have 
otherwise flowed away. It is like an effort to raise the 
weight which falls. True, it succeeds only in retarding 
the fall. But at least it can give us an idea of what the 
raising of the weight was." 

Let us imagine a vessel full of steam at a high 
pressure, and here and there in its sides a crack 
through which the steam is escaping in a jet. The 
steam thrown into the air is nearly all condensed into 
little drops which fall back, and this condensation and 
this fall represent simply the loss of something, an 
interruption, a deficit. Buta small part of the jet of 

1 In a book rich in facts and in ideas (La Dissolution opposée a [’ évolution, 
Paris, 1899), M. André Lalande shows us everything going towards death, 
in spite of the momentary resistance which organisms seem to oppose.—But, 
even from the side of unorganized matter, have we the right to extend to 
the entire universe considerations drawn from the present state of our solar 
system ? Beside the worlds which are dying, there are without doubt worlds 
that are being born. On the other hand, in the organized world, the death 
of individuals does not seem at all like a diminution of “life in general,” 
or like a necessity which life submits to reluctantly. As has been more than 
once remarked, life has never made an effort to prolong indefinitely the 
existence of the individual, although on so many other points it has made 

so many successful efforts. Everything is as if this death had been willed, 
or at least accepted, for the greater progress of life in general 


steam subsists, uncondensed, for some seconds ; it is 
making an effort to raise the drops which are falling ; 

it succeeds at most in retarding their fall. So, from an > 

immense reservoir of life, jets must be gushing out 
unceasingly, of which each, falling back, is a world. 
The evolution of living species within this world repre- 
sents what subsists of the primitive direction of the 
original jet, and of an impulsion which continues itself 
in a direction the inverse of materiality. But let us 
not carry too far this comparison. It gives us but a 
feeble and even deceptive image of reality, for the crack, 
the jet of steam, the forming of the drops, are deter- 
mined necessarily, whereas the creation of a world is 
a free act, and the life within the material world 
participates in this liberty. Let us think rather of an 
action like that of raising the arm ; then let us suppose 
that the arm, left to itself, falls back, and yet that 
there subsists in it, striving to raise it up again, some- 

thing of the will that animates it. In this image of | 

a creative action which unmakes ttself we have already a 
more exact representation of matter. In vital activity 
we see, then, that which subsists of the direct movement 
in the inverted movement, a reality which is making 
itself in a reality which is unmaking ttself. 

Everything is obscure in the idea of creation if we 

think of things which are created and a ¢hing which 
creates, as we habitually do, as the understanding cannot 
help doing. We shall show the origin of this illusion 
in our next chapter. Itis natural to our intellect, whose 
function is essentially practical, made to present to us 
things and states rather than changes and acts. But 
things and states are only views, taken by our mind, 
of becoming. There are no things, there are only 
actions. More particularly, if I consider the world in 



which we live, I find that the automatic and strictly 
determined evolution of this well-knit whole is action 
which is unmaking itself, and that the unforeseen forms 
which life cuts out in it, forms capable of being them- 
selves prolonged into unforeseen movements, represent 
the action that is making itself. Now, I have every 
reason to believe that the other worlds are analogous to 
ours, that things happen there in the same way. And 
I know they were not all constructed at the same time, 
since observation shows me, even to-day, nebulae in 
course of concentration. Now, if the same kind of 
action is going on everywhere, whether it is that which 
is unmaking itself or whether it is that which is striving 
to remake itself, I simply express this probable simili- 
tude when I speak of a centre from which worlds shoot 
out like rockets in a fire-works display—provided, 
however, that I do not present this centre as a shing, 
but as a continuity of shooting out. God, thus defined, 
has nothing of the already made; He is unceasing 
life, action, freedom. Creation, so conceived, is not a 
mystery ; we experience it in ourselves when we act 
freely. That new things can join things already existing 
is absurd, no doubt, since the ¢hivg results from a solidi- 
fication performed by our understanding, and there are 
never any things other than those that the understand- 
ing has thus constituted. To speak of things creating 
themselves would therefore amount to saying that the 
understanding presents to itself more than it presents to 
itself—a self-contradictory affirmation, an empty and 
vain idea. But that action increases as it goes on, that 
it creates in the measure of its advance, is what each of 
us finds when he watches himself act. Things are 
constituted by the instantaneous cut which the under- 
standing practises, at a given moment, on a flux of this 



kind, and what is mysterious when we compare the cuts 
together becomes clear when we relate them to the flux. 
Indeed, the modalities of creative action, in so far as it 
is still going on in the organization of living forms, 
are much simplified when they are taken in this way. 
Before the complexity of an organism and the practically 
infinite multitude of interwoven analyses and syntheses 
it presupposes, our understanding recoils disconcerted. 
That the simple play of physical and chemical forces, 
left to themselves, should have worked this marvel, 
we find hard to believe. And if it is a profound 
science which is at work, how are we to understand 
the influence exercised on this matter without form 
by this form without matter? But the difficulty arises 
from this, that we represent statically ready - made 
material particles juxtaposed to one another, and, also 
statically, an external cause which plasters upon them 
a skilfully contrived organization. In reality, life is a 
movement, materiality 1S the inverse movement, and 
each of these two movements is simple, the matter 
which forms a world being an undivided flux, and 
undivided also the life that runs through it, cutting out 
in it living beings all along its track. Of these two 
currents the second runs counter to the first, but the 
first obtains, all the same, something from the second. 
There results between them a modus vivendi, which is 
organization. This organization takes, for our senses 
and for our intellect, the form of parts entirely external 
to other parts in space and in time. Not only do we 
shut our eyes to the unity of the impulse which, passing 
through generations, links individuals with individuals, 
species with species, and makes of the whole series of 
the living one single immense wave flowing over matter, 
but each individual itself seems to us as an aggregate, 


aggregate of molecules and aggregate of facts. The 
reason of this lies in the structure of our intellect, which 
is formed to act on matter from without, and which 
succeeds by making, in the flux of the real, instantaneous 
cuts, each of which becomes, in its fixity, endlessly 
decomposable. Perceiving, in an organism, only parts 
external to parts, the understanding has the choice 
between two systems of explanation only: either to 
regard the infinitely complex (and thereby infinitely 
well-contrived) organization as a fortuitous concatena- 
tion of atoms, or to relate it to the incomprehensible 
influence of an external force that has grouped its 
elements together. But this complexity is the work of 
the understanding ; this incomprehensibility is also its 
work. Let us try to see, no longer with the eyes of 
the intellect alone, which grasps only the already made 
and which looks from the outside, but with the spirit, 
I mean with that faculty of seeing which is immanent 
in the faculty of acting and which springs up, somehow, 
by the twisting of the will on itself, when action is turned 
into knowledge, like heat, so to say, into light. To 
movement, then, everything will be restored, and into 
movement everything will be resolved. Where the 
understanding, working on the image supposed to be 
fixed of the progressing action, shows us parts infinitely 
manifold and an order infinitely well contrived, we catch 
a glimpse of a simple process, an action which is making 
itself across an action of the same kind which is 
unmaking itself, like the fiery path torn by the last 
rocket of a fireworks display through the black cinders 
of the spent rockets that are falling dead. 

From this point of view, the general considerations 
we have presented concerning the evolution of life will 


be cleared up and completed. We will distinguish | 
more sharply what is accidental from what is essential | 
in this evolution. a 

The impetus of life, of which we are speaking, 

consists in a need of creation. It cannot create 

absolutely, because it is confronted with matter, that is 
to say with the movement that is the inverse of its 
own. But it seizes upon this matter, which is necessity 
itself, and strives to introduce into it the largest possible 
amount of indetermination and liberty. How does it 
go to work? 

An animal high in the scale may be represented in 
a general way, we said, as a sensori-motor nervous 
system imposed on digestive, respiratory, circulatory 
systems, etc. The function of these latter is to cleanse, 
repair and protect the nervous system, to make it as 
independent as possible of external circumstances, but, 
above all, to furnish it with energy to be expended in 
movements. The increasing complexity of the organism 
is therefore due theoretically (in spite of innumerable 
exceptions due to accidents of evolution) to the 
necessity of complexity in the nervous system. No 
doubt, each complication of any part of the organism 
involves many others in addition, because this part 
itself must live, and every change in one point of 
the body reverberates, as it were, throughout. The 
complication may therefore go on to infinity in all 
directions ; but it is the complication of the nervous 
system which conditions the others in right, if not 
always in fact. Now, in what does the progress of the 
nervous system itself consist? In a simultaneous 
development of automatic activity and of voluntary 
activity, the first furnishing the second with an appro- 
priate instrument. Thus, in an organism such as ours, 


a considerable number of motor mechanisms are set 
up in the medulla and in the spinal cord, awaiting only 
a signal to release the corresponding act: the will is 
employed, in some cases, in setting up the mechanism 
itself, and in the others in choosing the mechanisms 
to be released, the manner of combining them and 
the moment of releasing them. The will of an animal 
is the more effective and the more intense, the greater 
the number of the mechanisms it can choose from, the 
more complicated the switchboard on which all the 
motor paths cross, or, in other words, the more developed 
its brain. Thus, the progress of the nervous system 
assures to the act increasing precision, increasing variety, 
increasing efficiency and independence. The organism 
behaves more and more like a machine for action, which 
reconstructs itself entirely for every new act, as if it 
were made of india-rubber and could, at any moment, 
change the shape of all its parts. But, prior to the 
nervous system, prior even to the organism properly 
so called, already in the undifferentiated mass of the 
amoeba, this essential property of animal life is found. 
The amoeba deforms itself in varying directions ; its 
entire mass does what the differentiation of parts will 
localize in a sensori-motor system in the developed 
animal. Doing it only in a rudimentary manner, it is 
dispensed from the complexity of the higher organisms ; 
there is no need here of the auxiliary elements that pass 
on to motor elements the energy to expend ; the animal 
moves as a whole, and, as a whole also, procures energy 
by means of the organic substances it assimilates. Thus, 
whether low or high in the animal scale, we always find 
that animal life consists (1) in procuring a provision ot 
energy ; (2) in expending it, by means of a matter as 
supple as possible, in directions variable and unforeseen, 


Now, whence comes the energy ? From the ingested 
food, for food is a kind of explosive, which needs only 
the spark to discharge the energy it stores. Who has 
made this explosive? The food may be the flesh of 
an animal nourished on animals and so on; but, in 
the end it is to the vegetable we always come back. 
Vegetables alone gather in the solar energy, and the 
animals do but borrow it from them, either directly or 
by some passing it on to others. How then has the plant 
stored up this energy? Chiefly by the chlorophyllian 
function, a chemicism sui generis of which we do not 
possess the key, and which is probably unlike that of 
our laboratories. The process consists in using solar 
energy to fix the carbon of carbonic acid, and thereby 
to store this energy as we should store that of a water- 
carrier by employing him to fill an elevated reservoir : 
the water, once brought up, can set in motion a mill or 
a turbine, as we will and when we will. Each atom of 
carbon fixed represents something like the elevation 
of the weight of water, or like the stretching of an 
elastic thread uniting the carbon to the oxygen in the 
carbonic acid. The elastic is relaxed, the weight falls 
back again, in short the energy held in reserve is 
restored, when, by a simple release, the carbon is per- 
mitted to rejoin its oxygen. 

So that all life, animal and vegetable, seems in its 
essence like an effort to accumulate energy and then to 
let it flow into flexible channels, changeable in shape, at 
the end of which it will accomplish infinitely varied 
kinds of work. That is what the vital impetus, 
passing through matter, would fain do all at once. 
It would succeed, no doubt, if its power were un- 
limited, or if some reinforcement could come to it from 
without. But the impetus is finite, and it has been 


given once for all. It cannot overcome all obstacles. 
The movement it starts is sometimes turned aside, 
sometimes divided, always opposed ; and the evolution 
of the organized world is the unrolling of this con- 
flict. The first great scission that had to be effected 
was that of the two kingdoms, vegetable and animal, 
which thus happen to be mutually complementary, 
without, however, any agreement having been made 
between them. It is not for the animal that the plant 
accumulates energy, it is for its own consumption ; 
but its expenditure on itself is less discontinuous, and 
less concentrated, and therefore less efficacious, than 
was required by the initial impetus of life, essentially 
directed toward free actions: the same organism could 
not with equal force sustain the two functions at once, 
of gradual storage and sudden use. Of themselves, 
therefore, and without any external intervention, simply 
by the effect of the duality of the tendency involved 
in the original impetus and of the resistance opposed 
by matter to this impetus, the organisms leaned 
some in the first direction, others in the second. To 
this scission there succeeded many others. Hence 
the diverging lines of evolution, at least what is 
essential in them. But we must take into account 
retrogressions, arrests, accidents of every kind. And 
we must remember, above all, that each species behaves 
as if the general movement of life stopped at it 
instead of passing through it. It thinks only of itself, 
it lives only for itself. Hence the numberless struggles 
that we behold in nature. Hence a discord, striking 
and terrible, but for which the original principle of life 
must not be held responsible. 

The part played by contingency in evolution is 
therefore great. Contingent, generally, are the forms 



adopted, or rather invented. Contingent, relative to 
the obstacles encountered in a given place and at a 
given moment, is the dissociation of the primordial 
tendency into such and such complementary tendencies 
which create divergent lines of evolution. Con- 
tingent the arrests and set-backs ; contingent, in large 
measure, the adaptations. Two things only are 
necessary : (1) a gradual accumulation of energy ; (2) 
an elastic canalization of this energy in variable and in- | 
determinable directions, at the end of which are free acts. 

This twofold result has been obtained in a particular 
way on our planet. But it might have been obtained 
by entirely different means. It was not necessary that 
life should fix its choice mainly upon the carbon of 
carbonic acid. What was essential for it was to store 
solar energy ; but, instead of asking the sun to separate, 
for instance, atoms of oxygen and carbon, it might 
(theoretically at least, and, apart from practical diffi- 
culties possibly insurmountable) have put forth other 
chemical elements, which would then have had to be 
associated or dissociated by entirely different physical 
means. And if the element characteristic of the sub- 
stances that supply energy to the organism had been 
other than carbon, the element characteristic of the 
plastic substances would probably have been other than 
nitrogen, and the chemistry of living bodies would then 
have been radically different from what it is. The 
result would have been living forms without any analogy 
to those we know, whose anatomy would have been 
different, whose physiology also would have been differ- 
ent. Alone, the sensori-motor function would have been 
preserved, if not in its mechanism, at least in its effects. 
It is therefore probable that life goes on in other planets, 
in other solar systems also, under forms of which we have 


no idea, in physical conditions to which it seems to 
us, from the point of view of our physiology, to be 
absolutely opposed. If its essential aim is to catch up 
usable energy in order to expend it in explosive actions, 
it probably chooses, in each solar system and on each 
planet, as it does on the earth, the fittest means to get 
this result in the circumstances with which it is con- 
fronted. That is at least what reasoning by analogy leads 
to, and we use analogy the wrong way when we declare 
life to be impossible wherever the circumstances with 
which it is confronted are other than those on the 
earth. The truth is that life is possible wherever 
energy descends the incline indicated by Carnot’s law 
and where a cause of inverse direction can retard the 
descent—that is to say, probably, in all the worlds 
suspended from all the stars. We go further: it is 
not even necessary that life should be concentrated 
and determined in organisms properly so called, that 
is, in definite bodies presenting to the flow of energy 
ready-made though elastic canals. It can be conceived 
(although it can hardly be imagined) that energy might 
be saved up, and then expended on varying lines 
running across a matter not yet solidified. Every 
essential of life would still be there, since there would 
still be slow accumulation of energy and sudden release. 
There would hardly be more difference between this 
vitality, vague and formless, and the definite vitality 
we know, than there is, in our psychical life, between 
the state of dream and the state of waking. Such 
may have been the condition of life in our nebula 
before the condensation of matter was complete, if it 
be true that life springs forward at the very moment 
when, as the effect of an inverse movement, the 
nebular matter appears. 

Taer=T ery awe 



It is therefore conceivable that life might have 
assumed a totally different outward appearance 
and designed forms very different from those we 
know. With another chemical substratum, in other 
physical conditions, the impulsion would have re- 
mained the same, but it would have split up very 
differently in course of progress ; and the whole would 
have travelled another road,—whether shorter or longer 
who can tell? In any case, in the entire series of 
living beings no term would have been what it now is. 
Now, was it necessary that there should be a series, or 
terms? Why should not the unique impetus have 
been impressed on a unique body, which might have 
gone on evolving? 

This question arises, no doubt, from the comparison 
of life to an impetus. And it must be compared to an 
impetus, because no image borrowed from the physical 
world can give more nearly the idea of it. But it is 
only an image. In reality, life is of the psychological 
order, and it is of the essence of the psychical to 
enfold a confused plurality of interpenetrating terms. 
In space, and in space only, is distinct multiplicity 
possible: a point is absolutely external to another 
point. But pure and empty unity, also, is met with 
only in space; it is that of a mathematical point. 
Abstract unity and abstract multiplicity are deter- 
minations of space or categories of the understanding, 
whichever we will, spatiality and intellectuality being 
moulded on each other. But what is of psychical 
nature cannot entirely correspond with space, nor enter 
perfectly into the categories of the understanding. Is 
my own person, at a given moment, one or manifold? 
If I declare it one, inner voices arise and protest—those 
of the sensations, feelings, ideas, among which my 


individuality is distributed. But, if | make it distinctly 
manifold, my consciousness rebels quite as strongly ; it 
affirms that my sensations, my feelings, my thoughts 
are abstractions which I effect on myself, and that each 
of my states implies all the others. I am then (we 
must adopt the language of the understanding, since 
only the understanding has a language) a unity that is 
multiple and a multiplicity that is one ;* but unity 
and multiplicity are only views of my personality taken 
by an understanding that directs its categories at me ; 
I enter neither into one nor into the other nor into 
both at once, although both, united, may give a fair 
imitation of the mutual interpenetration and con- 
tinuity that I find at the base of my own self. Such 
is my inner life, and such also is life in general. 
While, in its contact with matter, life is comparable 
to an impulsion or an impetus, regarded in itself it 
is an immensity of potentiality, a mutual encroach- 
ment of thousands and thousands of tendencies which 
nevertheless are “thousands and thousands” only 
when once regarded as outside of each other, that is, 
when spatialized. Contact with matter is what de- 
termines this dissociation. Matter divides actually 
what was but potentially manifold; and, in this 
sense, individuation is in part the work of matter, 
in part the result of life's own inclination. Thus, a 
poetic sentiment, which bursts into distinct verses, 
lines and words, may be said to have already con- 
tained this multiplicity of individuated elements, and 
yet, in fact, it is the materiality of language that 
creates it. 

But through the words, lines and verses runs the 

1 We have dwelt on this point in an article entitled ‘Introduction a la 
métaphysique ” (Revue de métaphysique et de morale, January 1903, pp. 1-25). 


er See ee 


simple inspiration which is the whole poem. So, among 
the dissociated individuals, one life goes on moving : 
everywhere the tendency to individualize is opposed 
and at the same time completed by an antagonistic and 
complementary tendency to associate, as if the manifold 
unity of life, drawn in the direction of multiplicity, 
made so much the more effort to withdraw itself on to 
itself. A part is no sooner detached than it tends to 
reunite itself, if not to all the rest, at least to what is 
nearest to it. Hence, throughout the whole realm of 
life, a balancing between individuation and association. 
Individuals join together into a society; but the 
society, as soon as formed, tends to melt the associated 
individuals into a new organism, so as to become itself 
an individual, able in its turn to be part and parcel 
of a new association. At the lowest degree of the 
scale of organisms we already find veritable associa- 
tions, microbial colonies, and in these associations, 
according to a recent work, a tendency to individuate 
by the constitution of a nucleus.’ The same tendency 
is met with again at a higher stage, in the protophytes, 
which, once having quitted the parent cell by way of 
division, remain united to each other by the gelatinous 
substance that surrounds them,—also in those protozoa 
which begin by mingling their pseudopodia and end by 
welding themselves together. The “colonial” theory 
of the genesis of higher organisms is well known. 
The protozoa, consisting of one single cell, are supposed 
to have formed, by assemblage, aggregates which, 
relating themselves together in their turn, have given 
rise to aggregates of aggregates ; so organisms more and 
more complicated, and also more and more differentiated, 

1 Cf. a paper written (in Russian) by Serkovski, and reviewed in the 

Année biologique, 1898, p. 317. 


are born of the association of organisms barely differ- 
entiated and elementary.’ In this extreme form, the 
theory is open to grave objections : more and more the 
idea seems to be gaining ground, that polyzoism is an 
exceptional and abnormal fact.?_ But it is none the less 
true that things happen as if every higher organism 
was born of an association of cells that have subdivided 
the work between them. Very probably it is not the 
cells that have made the individual by means of 
association ; it is rather the individual that has made 
the cells by means of dissociation. But this itself 
reveals to us, in the genesis of the individual, a haunting 
of the social form, as if the individual could only 
develop on the condition that its substance should be 
split up into elements having themselves an appearance 
of individuality and united among themselves by an 
appearance of sociality. There are numerous cases in 
which Nature seems to hesitate between the two forms, 
and to ask herself if she shall make a society or an 
individual. The slightest push is enough, then, to make 
the balance weigh on one side or the other. If we take 
an infusorian sufficiently large, such as the Stentor, and 
cut it into two halves each containing a part of the 
nucleus, each of the two halves will generate an inde- 
pendent Stentor ; but if we divide it incompletely, so 
that a protoplasmic communication is left between the 
two halves, we shall see them execute, each from its 
side, corresponding movements: so that in this case it 

1 Ed. Perrier, Les Colonies animales, Paris, 1897 (2nd edition) 

2 Delage, L’ Hérédité, 2nd edition, Paris, 1903, p. 97. Cf. by the same 
author, “ La Conception polyzoique des étres”” (Revue sctentifique, 1896, pp. 

8 This is the theory maintained by Kunstler, Delage, Sedgwick, Labbé, 
etc. Its development, with bibliographical references, will be found ix 
the work of Busquet, Les Etres vivants, Paris, 1899. 


is enough that a thread should be maintained or cut in 
order that life should affect the social or the individual 
form. Thus, in rudimentary organisms consisting of a 
single cell, we already find that the apparent individuality 
of the whole is the composition of an undefined number 
of potential individualities potentially associated. But, 
from top to bottom of the series of living beings, the 
same law is manifested. And it is this that we express 
when we say that unity and multiplicity are categories 
of inert matter, that the vital impetus is neither pure 
unity nor pure multiplicity, and that if the matter to 
which it communicates itself compels it to choose one 
of the two, its choice will never be definitive: it will 
leap from one to the other indefinitely. The evolution ° 
of life in the double direction of individuality and 
association has therefore nothing accidental about it : it 
is due to the very nature of life. : 
Essential also is the progress to reflexion. If our 
analysis is correct, it 1s consciousness, or rather supra- 
consciousness, that is at the origin of life. Conscious- 
ness, or supra-consciousness, is the name for the rocket 
whose extinguished fragments fall back as matter ; con- 
sciousness, again, is the name for that which subsists of the 
rocket itself, passing through the fragments and lighting 
them up into organisms. But this consciousness, which 
is a need of creation, is made manifest to itself only where 
creation is possible. It lies dormant when life is con- 
demned to automatism ; it wakens as soon as the possi- 
bility of a choice is restored. That is why, i in organisms 
unprovided with a: nervous system, it varies according 
to the power of locomotion and of deformation of which 
the organism disposes. And in animals with a nervous 
system, it is proportional to the complexity of the 
switchboard on which the paths called sensory and the 


paths called motor intersect—that is, of the brain. How 
must this solidarity between the organism and con- 
sciousness be understood ? 

We will not dwell here on a point that we have 
dealt with in former works. Let us merely recall that 
a theory such as that according to which consciousness 
is attached to certain neurons, and is thrown off from 
their work like a phosphorescence, may be accepted 
by the scientist for the detail of analysis ; it is a con- 
venient mode of expression. But it is nothing else. 
In reality, a living being is a centre of action. It 
represents a certain sum of contingency entering into 
the world, that is to say, a certain quantity of 
possible action—a quantity variable with individuals 
and especially with species. The nervous system of 
an animal marks out the flexible lines on which its 
action will run (although the potential energy is 
accumulated in the muscles rather than in the nervous 
system itself); its nervous centres indicate, by their 
development and their configuration, the more or 
less extended choice it will have among more or less 
numerous and complicated actions. Now, since the 
awakening of consciousness in a living creature is the 
more complete, the greater the latitude of choice allowed 
to it and the larger the amount of action bestowed upon 
it, it is clear that the development of consciousness will 
appear to be dependent on that of the nervous centres. 
On the other hand, every state of consciousness being, 
in one aspect of it, a question put to the motor activity 
and even the beginning of a reply, there is no psychical 
event that does not imply the entry into play of the 
cortical mechanisms. Everything seems, therefore, to 
happen as if consciousness sprang from the brain, and 
as if the detail of conscious activity were modelled on 

a maa 







that of the cerebral activity. In reality, consciousness 
does not spring from the brain; but brain and con- 
sciousness correspond because equally they measure, the 
one by the complexity of its structure and the other by 
the intensity of its awareness, the quantity of choice that 
the living being has at its disposal. 

It is precisely because a cerebral state expresses simply 
what there is of nascent action in the corresponding 
psychical state, that the psychical state tells us more 
than the cerebral state. The consciousness of a living 
being, as we have tried to prove elsewhere, is inseparable 
from its brain in the sense in which a sharp knife is 
inseparable from its edge: the brain is the sharp edge 
by which consciousness cuts into the compact tissue of 
events, but the brain is no more coextensive with con- 
sciousness than the edge is with the knife. Thus, from 
the fact that two brains, like that of the ape and that 
of the man, are very much alike, we cannot conclude 
that the corresponding consciousnesses are comparable 
or commensurable. 

But the two brains may perhaps be less alike than 
we suppose. How can we help being struck by the 
fact that, while man is capable of learning any sort of 
exercise, of constructing any sort of object, in short of 
acquiring any kind of motor habit whatsoever, the faculty 
of combining new movements is strictly limited in the 
best-endowed animal, even in the ape? The cerebral 
characteristic of man is there. The human brain is 
made, like every brain, to set up motor mechanisms 
and to enable us to choose among them, at any instant, 
the one we shall put in motion by the pull of a trigger. 
But it differs from other brains in this, that the number 
of mechanisms it can set up, and consequently the choice 
that it gives as to which among them shall be released, 


is unlimited. Now, from the limited to the unlimited 
there is all the distance between the closed and the open. 
It is not a difference of degree, but of kind. 

Radical therefore, also, is the difference between 
animal consciousness, even the most intelligent, and 
human consciousness. For consciousness corresponds 
exactly to the living being’s power of choice; it is 
co-extensive with the fringe of possible action that 
surrounds the real action: consciousness 1s synonymous 
with invention and with freedom. Now, in the animal, 
invention is never anything but a variation on the theme 
of routine. Shut up in the habits of the species, it 
succeeds, no doubt, in enlarging them by its individual 
initiative ; but it escapes automatism only for an instant, 
for just the time to create a new automatism. The 
gates of its prison close as soon as they are opened ; 
by pulling at its chain it succeeds only in stretching 
it. With man, consciousness breaks the chain. In 
man, and in man alone, it sets itself free. The whole 
history of life until man has been that of the effort of 
consciousness to raise matter, and of the more or less com- 
plete overwhelming of consciousness by the matter which 
has fallen back on it. The enterprise was paradoxical, 
if, indeed, we may speak here otherwise than by metaphor 
of enterprise and of effort. It was to create with matter, 
which is necessity itself, an instrument of freedom, to 
make a machine which should triumph over mechanism, 
and to use the determinism of nature to pass through 
the meshes of the net which this very determinism had 
spread. But, everywhere except in man, consciousness 
has let itself be caught in the net whose meshes it 
tried to pass through: it has remained the captive of 
the mechanisms it has set up. Automatism, which it 
tries to draw in the direction of freedom, winds about 


it and drags it down. It has not the power to escape, 
because the energy it has provided for acts is almost 
all employed in maintaining the infinitely subtle and 
essentially unstable equilibrium into which it has 
brought matter. But man not only maintains his 
machine, he succeeds in using it as he pleases. 
Doubtless he owes this to the superiority of his brain, 
which enables him to build an unlimited number 
of motor mechanisms, to oppose new habits to the old 
ones unceasingly, and, by dividing automatism against 
itself, to rule it. He owes it to his language, which 
furnishes consciousness with an immaterial body in 
which to incarnate itself and thus exempts it from 
dwelling exclusively on material bodies, whose flux 
would soon drag it along and finally swallow it up. 
He owes it to social life, which stores and preserves 
efforts as language stores thought, fixes thereby a 
mean level to which individuals must raise them- 
selves at the outset, and by this initial stimulation 
prevents the average man from slumbering and drives 
the superior man to mount still higher. But our 
brain, our society, and our language are only the 
external and various signs of one and the same internal 
superiority. They tell, each after its manner, the 
unique, exceptional success which life has won at a 
given moment of its evolution. They express the 
difference of kind, and not only of degree, which 
separates man from the rest of the animal world. 
They let us guess that, while at the end of the vast 
spring-board from which life has taken its leap, all 
the others have stepped down, finding the cord stretched 
too high, man alone has cleared the obstacle. 

It is in this quite special sense that man is the 
“term” and the “end” of evolution. Life, we have 


said, transcends finality as it transcends the other 
categories. It is essentially a current sent through 
matter, drawing from it what it can. There has not, 
therefore, properly speaking, been any project or plan. 
On the other hand, it is abundantly evident that the 
rest of nature is not for the sake of man: we struggle 
like the other species, we have struggled against other 
species. Moreover, if the evolution of life had 
encountered other accidents in its course, if, thereby, 
the current of life had been otherwise divided, we 
should have been, physically and morally, far different 
from what we are. For these various reasons it would 
be wrong to regard humanity, such as we have it before 
our eyes, as prefigured in the evolutionary movement. 
It cannot even be said to be the outcome of the whole 
of evolution, for evolution has been accomplished on 
several divergent lines, and while the human species 
is at the end of one of them, other lines have been 
followed with other species at their end. It is in a 
quite different sense that we hold humanity to be the 
ground of evolution. 

From our point of view, life appears in its entirety 
as an immense wave which, starting from a centre, 
spreads outwards, and which on almost the whole of its 
circumference is stopped and converted into oscillation : 
at one single point the obstacle has been forced, the 
impulsion has passed freely. It is this freedom that 
the human form registers. Everywhere but in man, 
consciousness has had to come to a stand; in man 
alone it has kept on its way. Man, then, continues the 
vital movement indefinitely, although he does not draw 
along with him all that life carries in itself. On other 
lines of evolution there have travelled other tendencies 
which life implied, and of which, since everything inter- 

~~ tes cone a 



penetrates, man has, doubtless, kept something, but 
of which he has kept only very little. Jt is as if a 
vague and formless being, whom we may call, as we will, 
man or superman, had sought to realize himself, and had 
succeeded only by abandoning a part of himself on the way. 
The losses are represented by the rest of the animal 
world, and even by the vegetable world, at least in 
what these have that is positive and above the accidents 
of evolution. 

From this point of view, the discordances of which 
nature offers us the spectacle are singularly weakened. 
The organized world as a whole becomes as the soil 
on which was to grow either man himself or a 
being who morally must resemble him. The animals, 
however distant they may be from our species, how- 
ever hostile to it, have none the less been useful 
travelling companions, on whom consciousness has un- 
loaded whatever encumbrances it was dragging along, 
and who have enabled it to rise, in man, to heights 
from which it sees an unlimited horizon open again 
before it. 

It is true that it has not only abandoned cumber- 
some baggage on the way ; it has also had to give up 
valuable goods. Consciousness, in man, 1s pre-eminently 
intellect. It might have been, it ought, so it seems, 
to have been also intuition. Intuition and intellect 
represent two opposite directions of the work of con- 
sciousness: intuition goes in the very direction of 
life, intellect goes in the inverse direction, and thus 
finds itself naturally in accordance with the movement 
of matter. A complete and perfect humanity would be 
that in which these two forms of conscious activity 
should attain their full development. And, between 
this humanity and ours, we may conceive any number 


of possible stages, corresponding to all the degrees 
imaginable of intelligence and of intuition. In this 
lies the part of contingency in the mental structure 
of our species. A different evolution might have led 
to a humanity either more intellectual still or more 
intuitive. In the humanity of which we are a part, 
intuition is, in fact, almost completely sacrificed to 
intellect. It seems that to conquer matter, and to 
reconquer its own self, consciousness has had to 
exhaust the best part of its power. This conquest, 
in the particular conditions in which it has been accom- 
plished, has required that consciousness should adapt 
itself to the habits of matter and concentrate all its 
attention on them, in fact determine itself more 
especially as intellect. Intuition is there, however, 
but vague and above all discontinuous. It is a lamp 
almost extinguished, which only glimmers now and 
then, for a few moments at most. But it glimmers 
wherever a vital interest is at stake. On our personality, 
on our liberty, on the place we occupy in the whole of 
nature, on our origin and perhaps also on our destiny, 
it throws a light feeble and vacillating, but which none 
the less pierces the darkness of the night in which the 
intellect leaves us. 

These fleeting intuitions, which light up their 
object only at distant intervals, philosophy ought to 
seize, first to sustain them, then to expand them and 
so unite them together. The more it advances in this 
work, the more will it perceive that intuition is mind 
itself, and, in a certain sense, life itself : the intellect 
has been cut out of it by a process resembling that 
which has generated matter. Thus is revealed the 
unity of the spiritual life. We recognize it only when 
we place ourselves in intuition in order to go from 



intuition to the intellect, for from the intellect we shall 
never pass to intuition. 

Philosophy introduces us thus into the spiritual 
life. And it shows us at the same time the relation of 
the life of the spirit to that of the body. The great 
error of the doctrines on the spirit has been the idea 
that by isolating the spiritual life from all the rest, by 
suspending it in space as high as possible above the 
earth, they were placing it beyond attack, as if they 
were not thereby simply exposing it to be taken as an 
effect of mirage! Certainly they are right to listen to 
conscience when conscience affirms human freedom ; 
but the intellect is there, which says that the cause 
determines its effect, that like conditions like, that all 
is repeated and that all is given. They are right to 
believe in the absolute reality of the person and in 
his independence toward matter ; but science is there, 
which shows the interdependence of conscious life and 
cerebral activity. They are right to attribute to man 
a privileged place in nature, to hold that the distance 
is infinite between the animal and man ; but the history 
of life is there, which makes us witness the genesis of 
species by gradual transformation, and seems thus to 
reintegrate man in animality. When a strong instinct 
assures the probability of personal survival, they are 
right not to close their ears to its voice ; but if there 
exist “souls” capable of an independent life, whence 
do they come? When, how and why do they enter 
into this body which we see arise, quite naturally, 
from a mixed cell derived from the bodies of its 
two parents? All these questions will remain un- 
answered, a philosophy of intuition will be a negation 
of science, will be sooner or later swept away by 
science, if it does not resolve to see the life of the 


body just where it really is, on the road that leads to the 
life of the spirit. But it will then no longer have to 
do with definite living beings. Life as a whole, from 
the initial impulsion that thrust it into the world, will 
appear as a wave which rises, and which is opposed by 
the descending movement of matter. On the greater 
part of its surface, at different heights, the current is 
converted by matter into a vortex. At one point alone 
it passes freely, dragging with it the obstacle which will 
weigh on its progress but will not stop it. At this 
point is humanity ; it is our privileged situation. On 
the other hand, this rising wave is consciousness, 
and, like all consciousness, it includes potentialities 
without number which interpenetrate and to which 
consequently neither the category of unity nor that of 
multiplicity is appropriate, made as they both are for 
inert matter. The matter that it bears along with it, 
and in the interstices of which it inserts itself, alone can 
divide it into distinct individualities. On flows the 
current, running through human generations, sub- 
dividing itself into individuals. This subdivision was 
vaguely indicated in it, but could not have been made 
clear without matter. Thus souls are continually being 
created, which, nevertheless, in a certain sense pre- 
existed. They are nothing else than the little rills into 
which the great river of life divides itself, flowing 
through the body of humanity. The movement of 
the stream is distinct from the river bed, although it 
must adopt its winding course. Consciousness is 
distinct from the organism it animates, although it 
must undergo its vicissitudes. As the possible actions 
which a state of consciousness indicates are at every 
instant beginning to be carried out in the nervous 
centres, the brain underlines at every instant the motor 


me a 



indications of the state of consciousness ; but the inter- 
dependence of consciousness and brain is limited to 
this; the destiny of consciousness is not bound up 
on that account with the destiny of cerebral matter. 
Finally, consciousness is essentially free ; it is freedom 
itself ; but it cannot pass through matter without 
settling on it, without adapting itself to it: this 
adaptation is what we call intellectuality ; and the 
intellect, turning itself back toward active, that is to 
say free, consciousness, naturally makes it enter into 
the conceptual forms into which it is accustomed to 
see matter fit. It will therefore always perceive free- 
dom in the form of necessity ; it will always neglect 
the part of novelty or of creation inherent in the free 
act; it will always substitute for action itself an imita- 
tion artificial, approximative, obtained by compounding 
the old with the old and the same with the same. 
Thus, to the eyes of a philosophy that attempts to re- 
absorb intellect in intuition, many difficulties vanish 
or become light. But such a doctrine does not only 
facilitate speculation ; it gives us also more power to 
act and to live. For, with it, we feel ourselves no 
longer isolated in humanity, humanity no longer seems 
isolated in the nature that it dominates. As the smallest 
grain of dust is bound up with our entire solar system, 
drawn along with it in that undivided movement of 
descent which is materiality itself, so all organized 
beings, from the humblest to the highest, from the 
first origins of life to the time in which we are, and 
in all places as in all times, do but evidence a single 
impulsion, the inverse of the movement of matter, and 
in itself indivisible. All the living hold together, and 
all yield to the same tremendous push. The animal 
takes its stand on the plant, man bestrides animality, 


and the whole of humanity, in space and in time, is one 
immense army galloping beside and before and behind 
each of us in an overwhelming charge able to beat down 
every resistance and clear the most formidable obstacles, 
perhaps even death. 



Ir remains for us to examine in themselves two 
theoretical illusions which we have frequently met with 
before, but whose consequences rather than principle 
have hitherto concerned us. Such is the object of 
the present chapter. It will afford us the opportunity 
of removing certain objections, of clearing up certain 
misunderstandings, and, above all, of defining more 
precisely, by contrasting it with others, a philosophy 
which sees in duration the very stuff of reality. 

Matter or mind, reality has appeared to us as a 
perpetual becoming. It makes itself or it unmakes 
itself, but it is never something made. Such is 
the intuition that we have of mind when we draw 
aside the veil which is interposed between our con- 
sciousness and ourselves. ‘This, also, is what our 

1 The part of this chapter which treats of the history of systems, par- 
ticularly of the Greek philosophy, is only the very succinct résumé of 
views that we developed at length, from 1900 to 1904, in our lectures 
at the Collége de France, especially in a course on the History of the Idea of 
Time (1902-1903). We then compared the mechanism of conceptual 

thought to that of the cinematograph. We believe the comparison will 
be useful here. 



intellect and senses themselves would show us of 
matter, if they could obtain a direct and disinterested 
idea of it. But, preoccupied before everything with 
the necessities of action, the intellect, like the senses, 
is limited to taking, at intervals, views that are instan- 
taneous and by that very fact immobile of the becoming 
of matter. Consciousness, being in its turn formed on 
the intellect, sees deat of the inner life what is 
already made, and only feels confusedly the making. 
Thus, we pluck out of duration those moments 
that interest us, and that we have gathered along its 
course. These alone we retain. And we are right in 
so doing, while action only is in question. But when, 
in speculating on the nature of the real, we go on regard- 
ing it as our practical interest requires us to regard it, 
we become unable to perceive the true evolution, the 
radical becoming. Of becoming we perceive only states, 
of duration only instants, and even when we speak of 
duration and of becoming, it is of another thing that 
we are thinking. Such is the most striking of the 
two illusions we wish to examine. | It consists in 
supposing that we can think the unstable by means of 
the stable, the moving by means of the immobile. 

The other illusion is near akin to the first. It 
has the same origin, being also due to the fact that 
we import into speculation a procedure made for 
practice. All action aims at getting something that 
we feel the want of, or at creating something that does 
not yet exist. In this very special sense, it fills a void, 
and goes from the empty to the full, from an absence 
to a presence, from the unreal to the real. Now the 
unreality which is here in question is purely relative 
to the direction in which our attention is engaged, for 
we are immersed in realities and cannot pass out of 


them ; only, if the present reality is not the one we 
are seeking, we speak of the absence of this sought-for 
reality wherever we find the presence of another. We 
thus express what we have as a function of what we want. 
This is quite legitimate in the sphere of action. But, 
whether we will or no, we keep to this way of speaking, 
and also of thinking, when we speculate on the nature 
of things independently of the interest they have for 
us. ‘Thus arises the second of the two illusions. We 
propose to examine this first. It is due, like the other, 
to the static habits that our intellect contracts when it 
prepares our action on things. Just as we pass through 
the immobile to go to the moving, so we make use of 
the void in order to think the full. 

We have met with this illusion already in dealing 
with the fundamental problem of knowledge. The 
question, we then said, is to know why there is order, 
and not disorder, in things. But the question has 
meaning only if we suppose that disorder, understood 
as an absence of order, is possible, or imaginable, or 
conceivable. Now, it is only order that is real; but, 
as order can take two forms, and as the presence of the 
one may be said to consist in the absence of the other, 
we speak of disorder whenever we have before us that 
one of the two orders for which we are not looking. 
The idea of disorder is then entirely practical. It 
corresponds to the disappointment of a certain expecta- 
tion, and it does not denote the absence of all order, 
but only the presence of that order which does not offer 
us actual interest. So that whenever we try to deny 
order completely, absolutely, we find that we are leap- 
ing from one kind of order to the other indefinitely, 
and that the supposed suppression of the one and the 
other implies the presence of the two. Indeed, if we 



go on, and persist in shutting our eyes to this move- 
ment of the mind and all it involves, we are no 
longer dealing with an idea; all that is left of disorder 
isa word. Thus the problem of knowledge is com- 
plicated, and possibly made insoluble, by the idea that 
order fills a void and that its actual presence is super- 
posed on its virtual absence. We go from absence to 
presence, from the void to the full, in virtue of the 
fundamental illusion of our understanding. That is 
the error of which we noticed one consequence in our 
last chapter. As we then anticipated, we must come 
to close quarters with this error, and finally grapple 
with it. We must face it in itself, in the radically 
false conception which it implies of negation, of the 
void and of the nought.’ 

Philosophers have paid little attention to the idea 
of the nought. And yet it is often the hidden spring, 
the invisible mover of philosophical thinking. From 
the first awakening of reflexion, it is this that pushes 
to the fore, right under the eyes of consciousness, the 
torturing problems, the questions that we cannot gaze 
at without feeling giddy and bewildered. I have no 
sooner commenced to philosophize than I ask myself 
why I exist ; and when I take account of the intimate 
connection in which I stand to the rest of the 
universe, the difficulty is only pushed back, for ] 
want to know why the universe exists ; and if I refer 
the universe to a Principle immanent or transcendent 
that supports it or creates it, my thought rests on 
this principle only a few moments, for the same 
problem recurs, this time in its full breadth and 
generality: Whence comes it, and how can it be 

1 The analysis of the idea of the nought which we give here (pp. 2go- 
314) has appeared before in the Revue philosophique (November 1906). 


understood, that anything exists? Even here, in the 
present work, when matter has been defined as a 
kind of descent, this descent as the interruption of a 

rise, this rise itself as a growth, when finally a Principle 

of creation has been put at the base of things, the 
same question springs up: How,—why does this 
principle exist rather than nothing ? 

Now, if I push these questions aside and go straight 
to what hides behind them, this is what I find :—Exist- 
ence appears to me like a conquest over nought. | 
say to myself that there might be, that indeed there 
ought to be, nothing, and I then wonder that there is 
something. Or I represent all reality extended on 
nothing as on a carpet : at first was nothing, and being 
has come by superaddition to it. Or, yet again, if 
something has always existed, nothing must always 
have served as its substratum or receptacle, and is 
therefore eternally prior. A glass may have always 
been full, but the liquid it contains nevertheless fills a 
void. In the same way, being may have always been 
there, but the nought which is filled and, as it were, 
stopped up by it, pre-exists for it none the less, if not 
in fact at least in right. In short, I cannot get rid of 
the idea that the full is an embroidery on the canvas 
of the void, that being is superimposed on nothing, 
and that in the idea of “nothing” there is /ess than in 
that of “something.” Hence all the mystery. 

It is necessary that this mystery should be cleared 
up. It is more especially necessary, if we put duration 
and free choice at the base of things. For the disdain 
of metaphysics for all reality that endures comes pre- 
cisely from this, that it reaches being only by passing 
through “not-being,” and that an existence which 
endures seems to it not strong enough to conquer 


non-existence and itself posit itself. It is for this 
reason especially that it is inclined to endow true being 
with a /ogica/, and not a psychological nor a physical 
existence. For the nature of a purely logical existence 
is such that it seems to be self-sufficient and to posit 
itself by the effect alone of the. force immanent in 
truth. If I ask myself why bodies or minds exist 
rather than nothing, I find no answer; but that a 
logical principle, such as A= A, should have the power 
of creating itself, triumphing over the nought through- 
out eternity, seems to me natural. A circle drawn 
with chalk on a blackboard is a thing which needs 
explanation : this entirely physical existence has not by 
itself wherewith to vanquish non-existence. But the 
“logical essence’”’ of the circle, that is to say, the 
possibility of drawing it according to a certain law— 
in short, its definition—is a thing which appears to me 
eternal : it has neither place nor date ; for nowhere, at 
no moment, has the drawing of a circle begun to be 
possible. Suppose, then, that the principle on which 
all things rest, and which all things manifest possesses 
an existence of the same nature as that of the definition 
of the circle, or as that of the axiom A=A: the mystery 
of existence vanishes, for the being that is at the 
base of everything posits itself then in eternity, as 
logic itself does. True, it will cost us rather a heavy 
sacrifice : if the principle of all things exists after the 
manner of a logical axiom or of a mathematical defini- 
tion, the things themselves must go forth from this 
principle like the applications of an axiom or the con- 
sequences of a definition, and there will no longer be 
place, either in the things or in their principle, for 
efficient causality understood in the sense of a free 
choice. Such are precisely the conclusions of a doctrine 


like that of Spinoza, or even that of Leibniz, and such 
indeed has been their genesis. 

Now, if we could prove that the idea of the nought, 
in the sense in which we take it when we oppose it to 
that of existence, is a pseudo-idea, the problems that are 
raised around it would become pseudo-problems. The 
hypothesis of an absolute that acts freely, that in an 
eminent sense endures, would no longer raise up 
intellectual prejudices. The road would be cleared 
for a philosophy more nearly approaching intuition, 
and which would no longer ask the same sacrifices of 
common sense. 

Let us then see what we are thinking about when 
we speak of “ Nothing.” To represent “ Nothing,” we 
must either imagine it or conceive it. Let us examine 
what this image or this idea may be. First, the image. 

I am going to close my eyes, stop my ears, extinguish 
one by one the sensations that come to me from the 
outer world. Now it is done; all my perceptions 
vanish, the material universe sinks into silence and the 
night.—I subsist, however, and cannot help myself 
subsisting. I am still there, with the organic sensa- 
tions which come to me from the surface and from the 
interior of my body, with the recollections which my 
past perceptions have left behind them—nay, with the 
impression, most positive and full, of the void I have 
just made about me. How can I suppress all this? 
How eliminate myself? I can even, it may be, blot 
out and forget my recollections up to my immediate 
past ; but at least I keep the consciousness of my present 
reduced to its extremest poverty, that is to say, of the 
actual state of my body. I will try, however, to do 
away even with this consciousness itself. 1 will reduce 


more and more the sensations my body sends in to 
me: now they are almost gone ; now they are gone, 
they have disappeared in the night where all things 
else have already died away. But no! At the very 
instant that my consciousness is extinguished, another 
consciousness lights up—or rather, it was already alight: 
it had arisen the instant before, in order to witness the 
extinction of the first; for the first could disappear 
only for another and in the presence of another. I see 
myself annihilated only if I have already resuscitated 
myself by an act which is positive, however involuntary 
and unconscious. So, do what I will, 1 am always 
perceiving something, either from without or from 
within. When I no longer know anything of external 
objects, it is because I have taken refuge in the con- 
sciousness that I have of myself. If I abolish this 
inner self, its very abolition becomes an object for an 
imaginary self which now perceives as an external 
object the self that is dying away. Be it external or 
internal, some object there always is that my imagina- 
tion is representing. My imagination, it is true, can 
go from one to the other, I can by turns imagine a 
nought of external perception or a nought of internal 
perception, but not both at once, for the absence of 
one consists, at bottom, in the exclusive presence of the 
other. But, from the fact that two relative noughts are 
imaginable in turn, we wrongly conclude that they are 
imaginable together: a conclusion the absurdity of 
which must be obvious, for we cannot imagine a nought 
without perceiving, at least confusedly, that we are 
imagining it, consequently that we are acting, that we 
are thinking, and therefore that something still subsists. 

The image, then, properly so called, of a suppression 
of everything is never formed by thought. The 


effort by which we strive to create this image simply 
ends in making us swing to and fro between the 
vision of an outer and that of an inner reality. In this 
coming and going of our mind between the without 
and the within, there is a point, at equal distance from 
both, in which it seems to us that we no longer perceive 
the one, and that we do not yet perceive the other : it 
is there that the image of “ Nothing” is formed. In 
reality, we then perceive both, having reached the point 
where the two terms come together, and the image of 
Nothing, so defined, is an image full of things, an image 
that includes at once that of the subject and that of 
the object and, besides, a perpetual leaping from one 
to the other and the refusal ever to come to rest finally 
on either. Evidently this is not the nothing that we 
can oppose to being, and put before or beneath being, 
for it already includes existence in general. 

But we shall be told that, if the representation of 
Nothing, visible or latent, enters into the reasonings 
of philosophers, it is not as an image, but as an idea. 
It may be agreed that we do not imagine the annthila- 
tion of everything, but it will be claimed that we can 
conceive it. We conceive a polygon with a thousand 
sides, said Descartes, although we do not see it in 
imagination : it is enough that we can clearly represent 
the possibility of constructing it. So with the idea of 
the annihilation of everything. Nothing simpler, it 
will be said, than the procedure by which we construct 
the idea of it. There is, in fact, not a single object of 
our experience that we cannot suppose annihilated. 
Extend this annihilation of a first object to a second, 
then to a third, and so on as long as you please: 
the nought is the limit toward which the operation 
tends.. And the ‘nought. so defined is the annihilation 

are nan si 


of everything. That is the theory. We need only 
consider it in this form to see the absurdity it involves. 

An idea constructed by the mind is an idea only if 
its pieces are capable of coexisting ; it is reduced to a 
mere word if the elements that we bring together to 
compose it are driven away as fast as we assemble them. 
When I have defined the circle, I easily represent a 
black or a white circle, a circle in cardboard, iron, or 
brass, a transparent or an opaque circle—but not a 
square circle, because the law of the generation of the 
circle excludes the possibility of defining this figure with 
straight lines. So my mind can represent any existing 
thing whatever as annihilated ;—but if the annihilation 
of anything by the mind is an operation whose 
mechanism implies that it works on a part of the 
whole, and not on the whole itself, then the extension 
of such an operation to the totality of things becomes 
self-contradictory and absurd, and the idea of an anni- 
hilation of everything presents the same character as 
that of a square circle: it is not an idea, it is only a 
word. So let us examine more closely the mechanism 
of the operation. 

In fact, the object suppressed is either external or 
internal : it is a thing or it is a state of consciousness. 
Let us consider the first case. I annihilate in thought 
an external object: in the place where it was, there 
is no longer anything.—No longer anything of that 
object, of course, but another object has taken its place : 
there is no absolute void in nature. But admit that 
an absolute void is possible : it is not of that void that 
I am thinking when I say that the object, once anni- 
hilated, leaves its place unoccupied ; for by the hypo- 
thesis it is a place, that is a void limited by precise 
outlines, or, in other words, a kind of thing. The void 


of which I speak, therefore, is, at bottom, only the 
absence of some definite object, which was here at first, 
is now elsewhere and, in so far as it is no longer in its 
former place, leaves behind it, so to speak, the void of 
itself. A being unendowed with memory or prevision 
would not use the words “void” or “nought” ; he 
would express only what is and what is perceived ; 
now, what is, and what is perceived, is the presence of 
one thing or of another, never the ahsence of anything. 
There is absence only for a being capable of remember- 
ing and expecting. He remembered an object, and 
perhaps expected to encounter it again; he finds 
another, and he expresses the disappointment of his 
expectation (an expectation sprung from recollection) 
by saying that he no longer finds anything, that he 
encounters “nothing.” Even if he did not expect to 
encounter the object, it is a possible expectation of it, 
it is still the falsification of his eventual expectation, 
that he expresses by saying that the object is no longer 
where it was. What he perceives in reality, what he 
will succeed in effectively thinking of, is the presence 
of the old object in a new place or that of a new object 
in the old place ; the rest, all that is expressed negatively 
by such words as “nought” or the “void,” is not so 
much thought as feeling, or, to speak more exactly, it 
is the tinge that feeling gives to thought. The idea 
of annihilation or of partial nothingness is therefore 
formed here in the course of the substitution of one 
thing for another, whenever this substitution is thought 
by a mind that would prefer to keep the old thing in 
the place of the new, or at least conceives this pre- 
ference as possible. ‘The idea implies on the subjective 
side a preference, on the objective side a substitution, 
and is nothing else but a combination of, or rather an 


interference between, this feeling of preference and this 
idea of substitution. 

Such is the mechanism of the operation by which 
our mind annihilates an object and succeeds in repre- 
senting in the external world a partial nought. Let 
us now see how it represents it within itself. We 
find in ourselves phenomena that are produced, and 
not phenomena that are not produced. I experience 
a sensation or an emotion, I conceive an idea, I 
form a resolution: my consciousness perceives these 
facts, which are so many presences, and there is no 
moment in which facts of this kind are not present to 
me. I can, no doubt, interrupt by thought the course 
of my inner life; I may suppose that I sleep with- 
out dreaming or that I have ceased to exist ; but at the 
very instant when I make this supposition, I conceive 
myself, I imagine myself watching over my slumber or 
surviving my annihilation, and I give up perceiving 
myself from within only by taking refuge in the 
perception of myself from without. That is to say that 
here again the full always succeeds the full, and that an 
intelligence that was only intelligence, that had neither 
regret nor desire, whose movement was governed by 
the movement of its object, could not even conceive 
an absence or a void. The conception of a void arises _ 
here when consciousness, lagging behind itself, remains 
attached to the recollection of an old state when another. 
state is already present. It is only a comparison 
between what 1s and what could or ought to be, 
between the full and the full. Ina word, whether it 
be a void of matter or a void of consciousness, the repre- 
sentation of the void ts always a representation which is 
full and which resolves itself on analysis into two positive 
elements: the idea, distinct or confused, of a substitution, 


and the feeling, experienced or imagined, of a desire or a 

It follows from this double analysis that the idea of 
the absolute nought, in the sense of the annihilation of 
everything, is a self-destructive idea, a pseudo-idea, a 
mere word. If suppressing a thing consists in replacing 
it by another, if thinking the absence of one thing is 
only possible by the more or less explicit representation 
of the presence of some other thing, if, in short, anni- 
hilation signifies before anything else substitution, the 
idea of an “annihilation of everything” is as absurd as 
that of a square circle. The absurdity is not obvious, 
because there exists no particular object that cannot be 
supposed annihilated ; then, from the fact that there is 
nothing to prevent each thing in turn being suppressed 
in thought, we conclude that it is possible to suppose 
them suppressed altogether. We do not see that 
suppressing each thing in turn consists precisely in 
replacing it in proportion and degree by another, and 
therefore that the suppression of absolutely everything 
implies a downright contradiction in terms, since the 
operation consists in destroying the very condition 
that makes the operation possible. 

But the illusion is tenacious. Though suppressing 
one thing consists iz fact in substituting another for it, 
we do not conclude, we are unwilling to conclude, that 
the annihilation of a thing iz thought implies the sub- 
stitution in thought of a new thing for the old. We 
agree that a thing is always replaced by another thing, 
and even that our mind cannot think the disappearance 
of an object, external or internal, without thinking— 
under an indeterminate and confused form, it is true— 
that another object is substituted for it. But we add 
that the representation of a disappearance is that of a 


phenomenon that is produced in space or at least in 
time, that consequently it still implies the calling up of 
an image, and that it is precisely here that we have to 
free ourselves from the imagination in order to appeal 
to the pure understanding. “Let us therefore no longer 
speak,” it will be said, ‘ of disappearance or annihilation ; 
these are physical operations. Let us no longer repre- 
sent the object A as annihilated or absent. Let us say 
simply that we think it ‘non-existent.’ To annihilate 
it is to act on it in time and perhaps also in space 3 it. 
is to accept, consequently, the conditions of spatial and 
temporal existence, to accept the universal connexion 
that binds an object to all others, and prevents it from 
disappearing without being at the same time replaced. 
But we can free ourselves from these conditions ; all 
that is necessary is that by an effort of abstraction we 
should call up the idea of the object A by itself, 
that we should agree first to consider it as existing, 
and then, by a stroke of the intellectual pen, blot out 
the clause. The object will then be, by our decree, 

Very well; let us strike out the clause. We must 
not suppose that our pen-stroke is self-sufficient—that 
it can be isolated from the rest of things. We shall 
see that it carries with it, whether we will or no, all 
that we tried to abstract from. Let us compare to- 
gether the two ideas—the object A supposed to exist, 
and the same object supposed “ non-existent.” 

The idea of the object A, supposed existent, is the 
representation pure and simple of the object A, for we 
cannot represent an object without attributing to it, 
by the very fact of representing it, a certain reality. 
Between thinking an object and thinking it existent, 
there is absolutely no difference. Kant has put this 


point in clear light in his criticism of the ontological 
argument. ‘Then, what is it to think the object A 
non-existent? To represent it non-existent cannot 
consist in withdrawing from the idea of the object 
A the idea of the attribute “‘ existence,” since, I repeat, 
the representation of the existence of the object is 
inseparable from the representation of the object, 
and indeed is one with it. To represent the object 
A non-existent can only consist, therefore, in adding 
something to the idea of this object: we add to it, in 
fact, the idea of an exclusion of this particular object by 
actual reality in general. To think the object A as 
non-existent is first to think the object and con- 
sequently to think it existent ; it is then to think that 
another reality, with which it is incompatible, supplants 
it. Only, it is useless to represent this latter reality 
explicitly ; we are not concerned with what it is; it is 
enough for us to know that it drives out the object A, 
which alone is of interest to us. That is why we think 
of the expulsion rather than of the cause which expels. 
But this cause is none the less present to the mind ; it 
is there in the implicit state, that which expels being 
inseparable from the expulsion as the hand which drives 
the pen is inseparable from the pen-stroke. The act by 
which we declare an object unreal therefore posits the 
existence of the real in general. In other words, to 
represent an object as unreal cannot consist in depriving 
it of every kind of existence, since the representation of 
an object is necessarily that of the object existing. Such 
an act consists simply in declaring that the existence 
attached by our mind to the object, and inseparable from 
its representation, is an existence wholly ideal—that of 
a mere possible. But the “ideality” of an object, and 
the “simple possibility” of an object, have meaning 


only in relation to a reality that drives into the region 
of the ideal, or of the merely possible, the object which 
is incompatible with it. Suppose the stronger and more 
substantial existence annihilated: it is the attenuated 
and weaker existence of the merely possible that 
becomes the reality itself, and you will no longer be 
representing the object, then, as non-existent. In other 
words, and however strange our assertion may seem, 
there is more, and not less, in the idea of an object con- 
ceived as ‘“‘not existing’ than in the idea of this same 
object conceived as “existing”’ ; for the idea of the object 
“< not existing” 1s necessarily the idea of the object “ exist- 
ing” with, in addition, the representation of an exclusion 
of this object by the actual reality taken 1n block. 

But it will be claimed that our idea of the non- 
existent is not yet sufficiently cut loose from every 
imaginative element, that it 1s not negative enough. 
“No matter,” we shall be told, “though the unreality 
of a thing consist in its exclusion by other things ; we 
want to know nothing about that. Are we not free to 
direct our attention where we please and how we 
please? Well then, after having called up the idea of 
an object, and thereby, if you will have it so, supposed 
it existent, we shall merely couple to our affirmation a 
‘not,’ and that will be enough to make us think it 
non-existent. This is an operation entirely intellectual, 
independent of what happens outside the mind. So let 
us think of anything or let us think of the totality of 
things, and then write in the margin of our thought 
the ‘not’ which prescribes the rejection of what it 
contains : we annihilate everything mentally by the 
mere fact of decreeing its annihilation.”—Here we 
have it! The very root of all the difficulties and 
errors with which we are confronted is to be found in 


the power ascribed here to negation. We represent 
negation as exactly symmetrical with affirmation. We 
imagine that negation, like affirmation, is self-sufficient. 
So that negation, like affirmation, would have the 
power of creating ideas, with this sole difference that 
they would be negative ideas. By affirming one thing, 
and then another, and so on ad infinitum, | form the 
idea of “All”; so, by denying one thing and then 
other things, finally by denying All, I arrive at the 
idea of Nothing.—But it is just this assimilation which 
is arbitrary. We fail to see that while affirmation is a 
complete act of the mind, which can succeed in building 
up an idea, negation is but the half of an intel- 
lectual act, of which the other half is understood, or 
rather put off to an indefinite future. We fail to see 
that while affirmation is a purely intellectual act, there 
enters into negation an element which is not intel- 
Jectual, and that it is precisely to the intrusion of this 
foreign element that negation owes its specific character. 

To begin with the second point, let us note that to 
deny always consists in setting aside a possible affrma- 
tion.’ Negation is only an attitude taken by the mind 
toward an eventual affirmation. When I say, “This 
table is black,” I am speaking of the table; I have 
seen it black, and my judgment expresses what I have 
seen. But if I say, “This table is not white,” I surely 
do not express something I have perceived, for I 
have seen black, and not an absence of white. It is 
therefore, at bottom, not on the table itself that I 
bring this judgment to bear, but rather on the judgment 
that would declare the table white. I judge a judgment 

1 Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd edition, p. 737: “From the point 
of view of our knowledge in general . . . the peculiar function of negative 
propositions is simply to prevent error.” Cf. Sigwart, Logik, 2nd edition, 
vol. i. pp. 150 ff. 


and not the table. The proposition, ‘“ This table is not 
white,” implies that you might believe it white, that 
you did believe it such, or that I was going to believe 
it such. I warn you or myself that this judgment is 
to be replaced by another (which, it is true, I leave 
undetermined). Thus, while affirmation bears directly 
on the thing, negation aims at the thing only in- 
directly, through an interposed affirmation. An affir- 
mative proposition expresses a judgment on an object ; 
a negative proposition expresses a judgment on a judg- 
ment. Negation, therefore, differs from affirmation 
properly so called in that it is an affirmation of the 
second degree: it affirms something of an affirmation which 
ttself affirms something of an object. 

But it follows at once from this that negation is not 
the work of pure mind, I should say of a mind placed 
before objects and concerned with them alone. When 
we deny, we give a lesson to others, or it may be to 
ourselves. We take to task an interlocutor, real or 
possible, whom we find mistaken and whom we put on 
his guard. He was affirming something: we tell him 
he ought to affirm something else (though without 
specifying the affirmation which must be substituted). 
There is no longer then, simply, a person and an object ; 
there is, in face of the object, a person speaking to a 
person, opposing him and aiding him at the same time ; 
there is a beginning of society. Negation aims at 
some one, and not only, like a purely intellectual 
operation, at some thing. It is of a pedagogical and 
social nature. It sets straight or rather warns, the 
person warned and set straight being possibly, by a 
kind of doubling, the very person that speaks. 

So much for the second point ; now for the first. We 
said that negation is but the half of an intellectual 



act, of which the other half is left indeterminate. If I 
pronounce the negative proposition, “ This table is not 
white,’ I mean that you ought to substitute for your 
judgment, “ The table is white,” another judgment. I 
give you an admonition, and the admonition refers to 
the necessity of a substitution. As to what you ought 
to substitute for your affirmation, I tell you nothing, it 
is true. This may be because I do not know the colour 
of the table; but it is also, it is indeed even more, 
because the white colour is that alone that interests us 
for the moment, so that I only need to tell you that 
some other colour will have to be substituted for 
white, without having to say which. A negative judg- 
ment is therefore really one which indicates a need 
of substituting for an affirmative judgment another 
affirmative judgment, the nature of which, however, is 
not specified, sometimes because it is not known, more 
often because it fails to offer any actual interest, the 
attention bearing only on the substance of the first. 
Thus, whenever I add a “not” to an affirmation, 
whenever I deny, I perform two very definite acts : 
(1) I interest myself in what one of my fellow-men 
affirms, or in what he was going to say, or in what 
might have been said by another Me, whom I 
anticipate ; (2) I announce that some other affirmation, 
whose content I do not specify, will have to be 
substituted for the one I find before me. Now, in 
neither of these two acts is there anything but affirma- 
tion. The sui generis character of negation is due to 
superimposing the first of these acts upon the second. 
It is in vain, then, that we attribute to negation the 
power of creating ideas sui generis, symmetrical with 
those that affirmation creates, and directed in a contrary 
sense. No idea will come forth from negation, for it 


has no other content than that of the affirmative 
judgment which it judges. 

To be more precise, let us consider an existential, 
instead of an attributive, judgment. If I say, “The 
object A does not exist,” I mean by that, first, that we 
might believe that the object A exists : how, indeed, can 
we think of the object A without thinking it existing, 
and, once again, what difference can there be between the 
idea of the object A existing and the idea pure and simple 
of the object A? Therefore, merely by saying “The 
object A,” I attribute to it some kind of existence, though 
it be that of a mere posszb/e, that is to say, of a pure 
idea. And consequently, in the judgment “ The object 
A is not,” there is at first an affirmation such as “ The 
object A has been,” or “The object A will be,” or, 
more generally, “The object A exists at least as a 
mere possible.” Now, when I add the two words “is 
not,” I can only mean that if we go further, if we 
erect the possible object into a real object, we shall be 
mistaken, and that the possible of which I am speaking 
is excluded from the actual reality as incompatible with 
it. Judgments that posit the non-existence of a thing 
are therefore judgments that formulate a contrast between 
the possible and the actual (that is, between two kinds 
of existence, one thought and the other found), where 
a person, real or imaginary, wrongly believes that a 
certain possible is realized. Instead of this possible, 
there is a reality that differs from it and rejects it: the 
negative judgment expresses this contrast, but it 
expresses the contrast in an intentionally incomplete 
form, because it is addressed to a person who 1s sup- 
posed to be interested exclusively in the possible that is 
indicated, and is not concerned to know by what kind 
of reality the possible is replaced. The expression of 


the substitution is therefore bound to be cut short. 
Instead of affirming that a second term is substituted 
for the first, the attention which was originally directed 
to the first term will be kept fixed upon it, and upon it 
alone. And, without going beyond the first, we shall 
implicitly affirm that a second term replaces it in 
saying that the first “is not.” We shall thus judge 
a judgment instead of judging a thing. We shall 
warn others or warn ourselves of a possible error instead 
of supplying positive information. Suppress every 
intention of this kind, give knowledge back its ex- 
clusively scientific or philosophical character, suppose 
in other words that reality comes itself to inscribe itself 
ona mind that cares only for things and is not interested 
in persons : we shall affirm that such or such a thing 
is, we shall never affirm that a thing is not. 

How comes it, then, that affirmation and negation 
are so persistently put on the same level and endowed 
with an equal objectivity ? How comes it that we have 
so much difficulty in recognizing that negation is sub- 
jective, artificially cut short, relative to the human mind 
and still more to the social life? (The reason is, no 
doubt, that oth negation and affirmation are expressed 
in propositions, and that any proposition, being formed 
of words, which symbolize concepis, is something relative 
to social life and to the human intellect. Whether 
I say “The ground is damp” or “ The ground is 
not damp,” in both cases the terms “ground” and 
“damp’”’ are concepts more or less artificially created 
by the mind of man,—extracted, by his free initiative, 
from the continuity of experience. In both cases the 
concepts are represented by the same conventional 
words. In both cases we can say indeed that the pro- 
position aims at a social and pedagogical end, since the 


first would propagate a truth as the second would 
prevent an error. From this point of view, which is 
that of formal logic, to affirm and to deny are indeed 
two mutually symmetrical acts, of which the first estab- 
lishes a relation of agreement and the second a relation 
of disagreement between a subject and an attribute. 
But how do we fail to see that the symmetry is 
altogether external and the likeness superficial ? 
Suppose language fallen into disuse, society dissolved, 
every intellectual initiative, every faculty of self-reflec- 
tion and of self-judgment atrophied in man : the damp- 
ness of the ground will subsist none the less, capable 
of inscribing itself automatically in sensation and of 
sending a vague idea to the deadened intellect. The 
intellect will still affirm, in implicit terms. And 
consequently, neither distinct concepts, nor words, nor 
the desire of spreading the truth, nor that of bettering 
oneself, are of the very essence of the affirmation. 
But this passive intelligence, mechanically keeping step 
with experience, neither anticipating nor following the 
course of the real, would have no wish to deny. It 
could not receive an imprint of negation; for, once 
again, that which exists may come to be recorded, but 
the non-existence of the non-existing cannot. For such 
an intellect to reach the point of denying, it must 
awake from its torpor, formulate the disappointment 
of a real or possible expectation, correct an actual or 
possible error—in short, propose to teach others or to 
teach itself. 

It is rather difficult to perceive this in the example 
we have chosen, but the example is indeed the more 
instructive and the argument the more cogent on that 
account. If dampness is able automatically to come and 
record itself, it is the same, it will be said, with non- 

OE a ee ee ee 


dampness ; for the dry as well as the damp can give 
impressions to sense, which will transmit them, as more 
or less distinct ideas, to the intelligence. In this sense 
the negation of dampness is as objective a thing, as 
purely intellectual, as remote from every pedagogical 
intention, as affirmation.—But let us look at it more 
closely : we shall see that the negative proposition, 
“The ground is not damp,” and the affirmative 
proposition, “The ground is dry,” have entirely 
different contents. The second implies that we 
know the dry, that we have experienced the specific 
sensations, tactile or visual for example, that are at 
the base of this idea. The first requires nothing of 
the sort ; it could equally well have been formulated 
by an intelligent fish, who had never perceived anything 
but the wet. It would be necessary, it is true, that this 
fish should have risen to the distinction between the 
real and the possible, and that he should care to anticipate 
the error of his fellow-fishes, who doubtless consider as 
alone possible the condition of wetness in which they 
actually live. Keep strictly to the terms of the pro- 
position, “‘ The ground is not damp,” and you will find 
that it means two things: (1) that one might believe 
that the ground is damp, (2) that the dampness is re- 
placed in fact by a certain quality x. This quality is 
left indeterminate, either because we have no positive 
knowledge of it, or because it has no actual interest 
for the person to whom the negation is addressed. 
To deny, therefore, always consists in presenting in 
an abridged form a system of two affirmations: the 
one determinate, which applies to a certain possible ; 
the other indeterminate, referring to the unknown or 
indifferent reality that supplants this possibility. The 
second affirmation is virtually contained in the judgment 


we apply to the first, a judgment which is negation 
itself. And what gives negation its subjective character 
is precisely this, that in the discovery of a replacement 
it takes account only of the replaced, and is not con- 
cerned with what replaces. The replaced exists only 
as a conception of the mind. It is necessary, in order 
to continue to see it, and consequently in order to 
speak of it, to turn our back on the reality, which flows 
from the past to the present, advancing from behind. 
It is this that we do when we deny. We discover the 
change, or more generally the substitution, as a traveller 
would see the course of his carriage if he looked 
out behind, and only knew at each moment the point at 
which he had ceased to be; he could never determine his 
actual position except by relation to that which he had just 
quitted, instead of grasping it in itself. 

To sum up, for a mind which should follow purely 
and simply the thread of experience, there would be no 
void, no nought, even relative or partial, no possible 
negation. Such a mind would see facts succeed facts, 
states succeed states, things succeed things. What it 
would note at each moment would be things exist- 
ing, states appearing, events happening. It would live 
in the actual, and, if it were capable of judging, it would 
never afhrm anything except the existence of the present. 

Endow this mind with memory, and especially with 
the desire to dwell on the past ; give it the faculty of 
dissociating and of distinguishing: it will no longer 
only note the present state of the passing reality ; it 
will represent the passing as a change, and therefore 
as a contrast between what has been and what is. And 
as there is no essential difference between a past that we 
remember and a past that we imagine, it will quickly 
rise to the idea of the “ possible” in general. 

ee a ee ee 


It will thus be shunted on to the siding of negation. 
And especially it will be at the point of representing 
a disappearance. But it will not yet have reached it. 
To represent that a thing has disappeared, it is not 
enough to perceive a contrast between the past and the 
present ; it is necessary besides to turn our back on 
the present, to dwell on the past, and to think the 
contrast of the past with the present in terms of the 
past only, without letting the present appear in it. 

The idea of annihilation is therefore not a pure idea ; 
it implies that we regret the past or that we conceive 
it as regrettable, that we have some reason to linger 
over it. The idea arises when the phenomenon of sub- 
stitution is cut in two by a mind which considers only 
the first half, because that alone interests it. Suppress 
all interest, all feeling, and there is nothing left but the 
reality that flows, together with the knowledge ever 
renewed that it impresses on us of its present state. 

From annihilation to negation, which is a more 
general operation, there is now only a step. All that 
is necessary is to represent the contrast of what is, not 
only with what has been, but also with all that might 
have been. And we must express this contrast as 
a function of what might have been, and not of what 
is; we must affirm the existence of the actual while 
looking only at the possible. The formula we thus 
obtain no longer expresses merely a disappointment 
of the individual; it is made to correct or guard 
against an error, which is rather supposed to be the 
error of another. In this sense, negation has a peda- 
gogical and social character. 

Now, once negation is formulated, it presents an 
aspect symmetrical with that of affirmation ; if affirma- 

tion affirms an objective reality, it seems that negation 


must affirm a non-reality equally objective, and, so to 
say, equally real. In which we are both right and 
wrong : wrong, because negation cannot be objectified 
in so far as it is negative ; right, however, in that the 
negation of a thing implies the latent affirmation of its 
replacement by something else, which we systematically 
leave on one side. But the negative form of negation 
benefits by the affirmation at the bottom of it. Be- 
striding the positive solid reality to which it is attached, 
this phantom objectifies itself. Thus is formed the idea 
of the void or of a partial nought, a thing being supposed 
to be replaced, not by another thing, but by a void 
which it leaves, that is, by the negation of itself. Now, 
as this operation works on anything whatever, we 
suppose it performed on each thing in turn, and 
finally on all things in block. We thus obtain the 
idea of absolute Nothing. If now we analyse this idea 
of Nothing, we find that it is, at bottom, the idea of 
Everything, together with a movement of the mind 
that keeps jumping from one thing to another, refuses 
to stand still, and concentrates all its attention on this 
refusal by never determining its actual position except 
by relation to that which it has just left. It is there- 
fore an idea eminently comprehensive and full, as full 
and comprehensive as the idea of //, to which it is 
very closely akin. 

How then can the idea of Nought be opposed to. 
that of All? Is it not plain that this is to oppose the 
full to the full, and that the question, “ Why does 
something exist ?”’ is consequently without meaning, 
a pseudo-problem raised about a pseudo- -idea ? Tet 
we must say once more why this phantom of a problem 
haunts the mind with such obstinacy. In vain do we 
show that in the idea of an “annihilation of the real” 


there is only the image of all realities expelling one 
another endlessly, in a circle ; in vain do we add that 
the idea of non-existence is only that of the expulsion 
of an imponderable existence, or a “ merely possible” ex- 
istence, by a more substantial existence which would then 
be the true reality ; in vain do we find in the sui generis 
form of negation an element which is not intellectual, 
—negation being the judgment of a judgment, an 
admonition given to some one else or to oneself, so 
that it is absurd to attribute to negation the power of 
creating ideas of a new kind, viz. ideas without content ; 
—in spite of all, the conviction persists that before 
things, or at least under things, there is “ Nothing.” 
If we seek the reason of this fact, we shall find it 
precisely in the feeling, in the social and, so to speak, 
practical element, that gives its specific form to negation. 
The greatest philosophic difficulties arise, as we have 
said, from the fact that the forms of human action 
venture outside of their proper sphere. We are made 
in order to act as much as, and more than, in order 
to think—or rather, when we follow the bent of our 
nature, it is in order to act that we think. It is there- 
fore no, wonder that the habits of action give their tone 
to those of thought, and that our mind always perceives 
things in the same order in which we are accustomed 
to picture them when we propose to act on them. 
Now, it is unquestionable, as we remarked above, that 
every | y human action _ has_its starting-point in a dis- 
satisfaction, and thereby ina. feeling of absence. We 
should not act if we did not set before ourselves an 
end, and we seek a thing only because we feel the 
lack of it. Our action proceeds thus from “ nothing ” 
to “something,” and its very essence is to embroider 
“something ” on the canvas of “nothing.” The truth 


is that the “ nothing ”’ concerned here is the absence not 
so much of a thing as of a utility. If I bring a visitor 
into a room that I have not yet furnished, I say to 
him that “there is nothing in it.” Yet I know the 
room is full of air; but, as we do not sit on air, the | 
room truly contains nothing that at this moment, for 
the visitor and for myself, counts for anything. In 
a general way, human work consists in creating utility ; 
and, as long as the work is not done, there is “ nothing ”’ 
—-nothing that we want. Our life is thus spent in 
filling voids, which our intellect conceives under the 
influence, by no means intellectual, of desire and of 
regret, under the pressure of vital necessities ; and if 
we mean by void an absence of utility and not of 
things, we may say, in this quite relative sense, that 
we are constantly going from the void to the full: such 
is the direction which our action takes. Our specula- 
tion cannot help doing the same; and, naturally, 
it passes from the relative sense to the absolute 
sense, since it 1s exercised on things themselves and 
not on the utility they have for us. Thus is implanted 
in us the idea that reality fills a void, and that Nothing, 
conceived as an absence of everything, pre-exists before 
all things in right, if notin fact. It is this illusion that 
we have tried to remove by showing that the idea of 
Nothing, if we try to see in it that of an annihilation 
of all things, is self-destructive and reduced to a 
mere word; and that if, on the contrary, it is truly 
an idea, then we find in it as much matter as in the 

idea of All. 

This long analysis has been necessary to show that 
a self-sufficient reality 1s not necessarily a reality foreign 
to duration. If we pass (consciously or unconsciously) 


through the idea of the nought in order to reach that 
of being, the being to which we come is a logical or 
mathematical essence, therefore non-temporal. And, 
consequently, a static conception of the real is forced on 
us: everything appears given once for all, in eternity. 
But we must accustom ourselves to think being directly, ~ 
without making a detour, without first appealing to 
the phantom of the nought which interposes itself 
between it and us. We must strive to see in order to 
see, and no longer to see in order to act. Then the 
Absolute is revealed very near us and, in a certain 
measure, in us. It is of psychological and not 
of mathematical nor logical essence. It lives with us. 
Like us, but in certain aspects infinitely more concen- 
trated and more gathered up in itself, it endures. 

But do we ever think true duration? Here again 
a direct taking possession is necessary. It is no use 
trying to approach duration : we must install ourselves 
within it straight away. This is what the intellect 
generally refuses to do, accustomed as it is to think the 
moving by means of the unmovable. 

The function of the intellect is to preside over 
actions. Now, in action, it is the result that interests 
us; the means matter little provided the end is 
attained. Thence it comes that we are altogether 
bent on the end to be realized, generally trusting 
ourselves to it in order that the idea may become an 
act ; and thence it comes also that only the goal where 
our activity will rest is pictured explicitly to our mind : 
the movements constituting the action itself either elude 
our consciousness or reach it only confusedly. Let us 
consider a very simple act, like that of lifting the arm. 
Where should we be if we had to imagine beforehand 
all the elementary contractions and tensions this act 


involves, or even to perceive them, one by one, as 
they are accomplished? But the mind is carried 
immediately to the end, that is to say, to the schematic 
and simplified vision of the act supposed accomplished. 
Then, if no antagonistic idea neutralizes the effect of 
the first idea, the appropriate movements come of 
themselves to fill out the plan, drawn in some way 
by the void of its gaps. The intellect, then, only 
represents to the activity ends to attain, that is to 
say, points of rest. And, from one end attained to 
another end attained, from one rest to another rest, 
our activity is carried by a series of leaps, during 
which our consciousness is turned away as much as 
possible from the movement going on, to regard only 
the anticipated image of the movement accomplished. 

Now, in order that it may represent as unmovable 
the result of the act which is being accomplished, the 
intellect must perceive, as also unmovable, the surround- 
ings in which this result is being framed. Our activity 
is fitted into the material world. If matter appeared 
to us as a perpetual flowing, we should assign no 

termination to any of our actions. We should feel 
\ each of them dissolve as fast as it was accomplished, 
_and we should not anticipate an ever-fleeting future. 
\tn order that our activity may leap from an act to an 
act, it is necessary that matter should pass from a state 
to a state, for it is only into a state of the material 
world that action can fit a result, so as to be accom- 
plished. But is it thus that matter presents itself ? 

A priori we may presume that our perception 
manages to apprehend matter with this bias. Sensory 
organs and motor organs are in fact codrdinated with 
each other. Now, the first symbolize our faculty of 
perceiving, as the second our faculty of acting. The 



organism thus evidences, in a visible and tangible 
form, the perfect accord of perception and action. 
So if our activity always aims at a resu/t into which 
it is momentarily fitted, our perception must retain 
of the material world, at every moment, only a s/ate 
in which it is provisionally placed. This is the most 
natural hypothesis. And it is easy to see that ex- 
perience confirms it. 

From our first glance at the world, before we even 
make out Jodies in it, we distinguish qualities. Colour 
succeeds to colour, sound to sound, resistance to resist- 
ance, etc. Each of these qualities, taken separately, is a 
state that seems to persist as such, immovable until 
another replaces it. Yet each of these qualities resolves 
itself, on analysis, into an enormous number of ele- 
mentary movements. Whether we see in it vibrations 
or whether we represent it in any other way, one fact 
is certain, it is that every quality is change. In vain, 
moreover, shall we seek beneath the change the thing 
which changes : it 1s always provisionally, and in order 
to satisfy our imagination, that we attach the movement 
toamobile. The mobile flies for ever before the pursuit 
of science, which is concerned with mobility alone. 
In the smallest discernible fraction of a second, in the 
almost instantaneous perception of a sensible quality, 
there may be trillions of oscillations which repeat 
themselves. The permanence of a sensible quality 
consists in this repetition of movements, as the per- 
sistence of life consists in a series of palpitations. The 
primal function of perception is precisely to grasp a series 
of elementary changes under the form of a quality or 
of a simple state, by a work of condensation. The 
greater the power of acting bestowed upon an animal 
species, the more numerous, probably, are the ele- 


mentary changes that its faculty of perceiving con- 
centrates into one of its instants. And the progress 
must be continuous, in nature, from the beings that 
vibrate almost in unison with the oscillations of the ether, 
up to those that embrace trillions of these oscillations 
in the shortest of their simple perceptions. The first 
feel hardly anything but movements ; the others per- 
ceive quality. The first are almost caught up in the 
running-gear of things; the others react, and the 
tension of their faculty of acting is probably proportional 
to the concentration of their faculty of perceiving. The 
progress goes on even in humanity itself. A man is so 
much the more a “man of action” as he can embrace 
in a glance a greater number of events: he who per- 
ceives successive events one by one will allow himself 
to be led by them; he who grasps them as a whole 
will dominate them. In short, the qualities of matter 
are so many stable views that we take of its instability. 

Now, in the continuity of sensible qualities we 
mark off the boundaries of bodies. Each of these 
bodies really changes at every moment. In the first 
place, it resolves itself into a group of qualities, and 
every quality, as we said, consists of a succession of 
elementary movements. But, even if we regard the 
quality as a stable state, the body is still unstable in 
that it changes qualities without ceasing. The body 
pre-eminently—that which we are most justified in 
isolating within the continuity of matter, because it 
constitutes a relatively closed system,—is the living 
body ; it is, moreover, for it that we cut out the others 
within the whole. Now, life is an evolution. We 
concentrate a period of this evolution in a stable view 
which we call a form, and, when the change _has. 
become considerable enough to overcome the fortunate 


inertia of our perception, | we say that the body has 

changed its form. But in reality the body i is changing —"“ 

form at every moment mi rather, there i 1s no form, 
since | form_is 1S immobile and the ‘reality i is movement. 

is ‘only a _ snapshot view Of a a - transition. “Therefore, | 

here again, our perception manages to solidify into 
discontinuous images the fluid continuity of the real. 
When the successive images do not differ from each 
other too much, we consider them all as the waxing and 
waning of a single mean image, or as the deformation 
of this image in different directions. And to this 
mean we really allude when we speak of the essence of 
a thing, or of the thing itself. 

Finally things, once constituted, show on the 
surface, by their changes of situation, the profound 
changes that are being accomplished within the Whole. 
We say then that they act on one another. This action 
appears to us, no doubt, in the form of movement. 
But from the mobility of the movement we turn away 
as much as we can; what interests us is, as we said 
above, the unmovable plan of the movement rather 
than the movement itself. Is it a simple movement? 
We ask ourselves where it is going. It is by its 
direction, that is to say, by the position of its provisional 
end, that we represent it at every moment. Is it a 
complex movement? We would know above ll 
what is going on, what the movement is doing — in 
other words, the resu/t obtained or the presiding 
intention. Examine closely what is in your mind 
when you speak of an action in course of accom- 
plishment. The idea of change is there, I am willing 
to grant, but it is hidden in the penumbra. In the 
full light is the motionless plan of the act supposed 



accomplished. It is by this, and by this only, that 
the complex act is distinguished and defined. We 
should be very much embarrassed if we had to 
imagine the movements inherent in the actions of 
eating, drinking, fighting, etc. It is enough for us 
to know, in a general and indefinite way, that all these 
acts are movements. Once that side of the matter 
has been settled, we simply seek to represent the 
general plan of each of these complex movements, 
that is to say the motionless design that underlies them. 
Here again knowledge bears on a state rather than on 
a change. It is therefore the same with this third 
case as with the others. Whether the movement be 
qualitative or evolutionary or extensive, the mind 
manages to take stable views of the instability. And 
thence the mind derives, as we have just shown, three 
kinds of representations: (1) qualities, (2) forms or 
essences, (3) acts. 

To these three ways of seeing correspond three 
categories of words: adjectives, substantives and verbs, 
which are the primordial elements of language. Adjec- 
tives and substantives therefore symbolize states. But 
the verb itself, if we keep to the clear part of the idea 
it calls up, hardly expresses anything else. 

Now, if we try to characterize more precisely our 
natural attitude towards Becoming, this is what we 
find. Becoming is infinitely varied. That which goes 
from yellow to green is not like that which goes from 
green to blue: they are different gua/itative movements. 
That which goes from flower to fruit is not like that 
which goes from larva to nymph and from nymph to 
perfect insect: they are different evo/usonary movements. 
The action of eating or of drinking is not like the 


action of fighting: they are different extensive move- 
ments. And these three kinds of movement them- 
selves — qualitative, evolutionary, extensive — differ 
profoundly. The trick of our perception, like that of 
our intelligence, like that of our language, consists in 
extracting from these profoundly different becomings 
the single representation of becoming iz general, un- 
defined becoming, a mere abstraction which by itself 
says nothing and of which, indeed, it is very rarely 
that we think. To this idea, always the same, and 
always obscure or unconscious, we then join, in each 
particular case, one or several clear images that repre- 
sent s/ates and which serve to distinguish all becomings 
from each other. It is this composition of a specified 
and definite state with change general and unde- 
fined that we substitute for the specific change. An 
infinite multiplicity of becomings variously coloured, 
so to speak, passes before our eyes : we manage so that 
we see only differences of colour, that is to say, differ- 
ences of state, beneath which there is supposed to flow, 
hidden from our view, a becoming always and every- 
where the same, invariably colourless. 

Suppose we wish to portray on a screen a living 
picture, such as the marching past of a regiment. 
There is one way in which it might first occur to us 
to do it. That would be to cut out jointed figures 
representing the soldiers, to give to each of them the 
movement of marching, a movement varying from 
individual to individual although common to the 
human species, and to throw the whole on the screen. 
We should need to spend on this little game an 
enormous amount of work, and even then we should 
obtain but a very poor result : how could it, at its best, 
reproduce the suppleness and variety of life? Now, 



there is another way of proceeding, more easy and at 
the same time more effective. It is to take a series 
of snapshots of the passing regiment and to throw 
these instantaneous views on the screen, so that they 
replace each other very rapidly. This is what the 
cinematograph does. With photographs, each of which 
represents the regiment in a fixed attitude, it recon- 
stitutes the mobility of the regiment marching. It is 
true that if we had to do with photographs alone, 
however much we might look at them, we should 
never see them animated : with immobility set beside 
immobility, even endlessly, we could never make move- 
ment. In order that the pictures may be animated, 
there must be movement somewhere. The movement 
does indeed exist here; it is in the apparatus. It 
is because the film of the cinematograph unrolls, 
bringing in turn the different photographs of the scene 
to continue each other, that each actor of the scene 
recovers his mobility; he strings all his successive 
attitudes on the invisible movement of the film. The 
process then consists in extracting from all the move- 
ments peculiar to all the figures an impersonal movement 
abstract and simple, movement in general, so to speak: 
we put this into the apparatus, and we reconstitute the 
individuality of each particular movement by combining 
this nameless movement with the personal attitudes. 
Such is the contrivance of the cinematograph. And 
such is also that of our knowledge. Instead of attach- 
ing ourselves to the inner becoming of things, we place 
ourselves outside them in order to recompose their 
becoming artificially. We take snapshots, as it were, 
of the passing reality, and, as these are characteristic of 
the reality, we have only to string them on a becoming, 
abstract, uniform and invisible, situated at the back of 


the apparatus of knowledge, in order to imitate what 
there is that 1s characteristic in this becoming itself. 
Perception, intellection, language so proceed in general. 

‘Whether we would think becoming, or express it, or 

even perceive it, we hardly do anything else than set 
going a kind of cinematograph inside us. We may 
therefore sum up what we have been saying in the 
conclusion that the mechanism of our ordinary knowledge 
is of a cinematographical kind. 

Of the altogether practical character of this operation 
there is no possible doubt. Each of our acts aims at a 
certain insertion of our will into the reality. There is, 
between our body and other bodies, an arrangement 
like that of the pieces of glass that compose a kaleido- 
scopic picture. Our activity goes from an arrange- 
ment to a rearrangement, each time no doubt giving 
the kaleidoscope a new shake, but not interesting 
itself in the shake, and seeing only the new 
picture. Our knowledge of the operation of nature 
must be exactly symmetrical, therefore, with the interest 
we take in our own operation. In this sense we may 
say, if we are not abusing this kind of illustration, 
that the cinematographical character of our knowledge of 
things is due to the kaleidoscopic character of our adaptation 
to them. 

The cinematographical method is therefore the only 
practical method, since it_consists in making the general 
character of knowledge form itself on that of action, 
while expecting that the detail of each act hoe 
depend in its turn on that of knowledge. In order 
that action may always be enlightened, intelligence 
must always be present in it; but intelligence, in order 
thus to accompany the progress of activity and ensure its 
direction, must begin by adopting its rhythm. Action 


is discontinuous, like every pulsation of life; discon- 
tinuous, therefore, is knowledge. The mechanism of 
the faculty of knowing has been constructed on this 
plan. Essentially practical, can it be of use, such as it 
is, for speculation? Let us try with it to follow 
reality in its windings, and see what will happen. 

I take of the continuity of a particular becoming a 
series of views, which I connect together by “ becoming 
in general.” But of course I cannot stop there. What 
is not determinable is not representable : of “ becoming 
in general” I have only a verbal knowledge. As the 
letter « designates a certain unknown quantity, what- 
ever it may be, so my “becoming in general,” always 
the same, symbolizes here a certain transition of which 
I have taken some snapshots ; of the transition itself 
it teaches me nothing. Let me then concentrate myself 
wholly on the transition, and, between any two snap- 
shots, endeavour to realize what is going on. As I 
apply the same method, I obtain the same result ; a 
third view merely slips in between the two others. I 
may begin again as often as I will, I may set views 
alongside of views for ever, I shall obtain nothing else. 
The application of the cinematographical method there- 
fore leads to a perpetual recommencement, during 
which the mind, never able to satisfy itself and never 
finding where to rest, persuades itself, no doubt, that 
it imitates by its instability the very movement of 
the real. But though, by straining itself to the point 
of giddiness, it may end by giving itself the illusion of 
mobility, its operation has not advanced it a step, since 
it remains as far as ever from its goal. In order to 
advance with the moving reality, you must replace your- 
self within it. Install yourself within change, and you 
will grasp at once both change itself and the successive 


states in which it might at any instant be immobilized. 
But with these successive states, perceived from without 
as real and no longer as potential immobilities, you 
will never reconstitute movement. Call them qualities, 
forms, positions, or intentions, as the case may be, multiply 
the number of them as you will, let the interval between 
two consecutive states be infinitely small: before the 
intervening movement you will always experience 
the disappointment of the child who tries by clapping 
his hands together to crush the smoke. The move- 
ment slips through the interval, because every 
attempt to reconstitute change out of states implies 
the absurd proposition, that movement is made of 

Philosophy perceived this as soon as it opened its 
eyes. The arguments of Zeno of Elea, although 
formulated with a very different intention, have no 
other meaning. 

Take the flying arrow. At every moment, says 
Zeno, it is motionless, for it cannot have time to move, 
that is, to occupy at least two successive positions, 
unless at least two moments are allowed it. At a given 
moment, therefore, it is at rest at a given point. 
Motionless in each point of its course, it is motion- 
Jess during all the time that it is moving. 

Yes, if we suppose that the arrow can ever de in a 
point of its course. Yes again, if the arrow, which is 
moving, ever coincides with a position, which is motion- 
less. But the arrow never is in any point of its course. 
The most we can say is that it might be there, in this 
sense, that it passes there and might stop there. It is 
true that if it did stop there, it would be at rest there, 
and at this point it is no longer movement that we 
should have to do with. The truth is that if the 


arrow leaves the point A to fall down at the point B, 
its movement AB is as simple, as indecomposable, in 
so far as it is movement, as the tension of the bow that 
shoots it. As the shrapnel, bursting before it falls to 
the ground, covers the explosive zone with an indivisible 
danger, so the arrow which goes from A to B displays 
with a single stroke, although over a certain extent of 
duration, its indivisible mobility. Suppose an elastic 
stretched from A to B, could you divide its extension ? 
The course of the arrow is this very extension ; it is 
equally simple and equally undivided. It is a single 
and unique bound. You fix a point C in the interval 
passed, and say that at a certain moment the arrow 
was in C. If it had been there, it would have been 
stopped there, and you would no longer have had a 
flight from A to B, but ¢wo flights, one from A to C 
and the other from C to B, with an interval of rest. 
A single movement is entirely, by the hypothesis, a 
movement between two stops; if there are intermediate 
stops, it is no longer a single movement. At bottom, 
the illusion arises from this, that the movement, once 
effected, has laid along its course a motionless trajectory 
on which we can count as many immobilities as we will. 
From this we conclude that the movement, whz/st being 
effected, lays at each instant beneath it a position with 
which it coincides. We do not see that the trajectory 
is created in one stroke, although a certain time is 
required for it ; and that though we can divide at will 
the trajectory once created, we cannot divide its 
creation, which is an act in progress and not a thing. 
To suppose that the moving body /s at a point of its 
course is to cut the course in two by a snip of the 
scissors at this point, and to substitute two trajectories 
for the single trajectory which we were first considering. 


It is to distinguish two successive acts where, by the 
hypothesis, there is only one. In short, it is to attribute 
to the course itself of the arrow everything that can be 
said of the interval that the arrow has traversed, that is 
to say, to admit 4 priori the absurdity that movement 
coincides with immobility. 

We shall not dwell here on the three other argu- 
ments of Zeno. We have examined them elsewhere. 
It is enough to point out that they all consist in 
applying the movement to the line traversed, and 
supposing that what is true of the line is true of the 
movement. The line, for example, may be divided 
“into as many parts as we wish, of any length that we 
wish, and it is always the same line. From this we 
conclude that we have the right to suppose the move- 
ment articulated as we wish, and that it is always the 
same movement. We thus obtaina series of absurdities 
that all express the same fundamental absurdity. But 
the possibility of applying the movement ¢o the line 
traversed exists only for an observer who, keeping 
outside the movement and seeing at every instant the 
possibility of a stop, tries to reconstruct the real move- 
ment with these possible immobilities. The absurdity 
vanishes as soon as we adopt by thought the continuity 
of the real movement, a continuity of which every one 
of us is conscious whenever he lifts an arm or advances 
a step. We feel then indeed that the line passed over 
between two stops is described with a single indivisible 
stroke, and that we seek in vain to practise on the 
movement, which traces the line, divisions correspond- 
ing, each to each, with the divisions arbitrarily chosen 
of the line once it has been traced. The line traversed 
by the moving body lends itself to any kind of 

division, because it has no internal organization. But 


all movement is articulated inwardly. It is either an 
indivisible bound (which may occupy, nevertheless, a 
very long duration) or a series of indivisible bounds. 
Take the articulations of this movement into account, 
or give up speculating on its nature. 

_ When Achilles pursues the tortoise, each of his steps 
must be treated as indivisible, and so must each step of 
the tortoise. After a certain number of steps, Achilles 
will have overtaken the tortoise. There is nothing 
more simple. If you insist on dividing the two motions 
further, distinguish both on the one side and on the 
other, in the course of Achilles and in that of the 
tortoise, the sub-multiples of the steps of each of them ; 
but respect the natural articulations of the two courses. 
As long as you respect them, no difficulty will arise, 
because you will follow the indications of experience. 
But Zeno’s device is to reconstruct the movement of 
Achilles according to a law arbitrarily chosen. Achilles 
with a first step is supposed to arrive at the point where 
the tortoise was, with a second step at the point which 
it has moved to while he was making the first, and so 
on. In this case, Achilles would always have a new 
step to take. But obviously, to overtake the tortoise, 
he goes about it in quite another way. The move- 
ment considered by Zeno would only be the equivalent 
of the movement of Achilles if we could treat the 
movement as we treat the interval passed through, 
decomposable and recomposable at will. Once you sub- 
scribe to this first absurdity, all the others follow.’ 

1 That is, we do not consider the sophism of Zeno refuted by the fact 
; : Pore. ; " 
that the geometrical progression a(1 siete Spake 5.00 Ts etc.)—in which a 

designates the initial distance between Achilles and the tortoise, and 
the relation of their respective velocities—has a finite sum if # is greater 
than 1. On this point we may refer to the arguments of F. Evellin, which 


Nothing would be easier, now, than to extend 
Zeno’s argument to qualitative becoming and to 
evolutionary becoming. We should find the same con- 
tradictions in these. ‘That the child can become a youth, 
ripen to maturity and decline to old age, we understand 
when we consider that vital evolution is here the reality 
itself. Infancy, adolescence, maturity, old age, are mere 
views of the mind, possib/e stops imagined by us, from 
without, along the continuity of a progress. On the 
contrary, let childhood, adolescence, maturity and old 
age be given as integral parts of the evolution, they 
become real stops, and we can no longer conceive how 
evolution is possible, for rests placed beside rests will 
never be equivalent to a movement. How, with what 
is made, can we reconstitute what is being made? 
How, for instance, from childhood once posited as a 
thing, shall we pass to adolescence, when, by the hypo- 
thesis, childhood only is given? If we look at it 
closely, we shall see that our habitual manner of 
speaking, which is fashioned after our habitual manner 
of thinking, leads us to actual logical deadlocks,— 
deadlocks to which we allow ourselves to be led without 
anxiety, because we feel confusedly that we can always 
get out of them if we like: all that we have to do, in 
fact, is to give up the cinematographical habits of our 
intellect. When we say “The child becomes a man,” 
let us take care not to fathom too deeply the literal 
we regard as conclusive (see Evellin, Infint et quantité, Paris, 1880, pp. 
63-97; cf. Revue philosophique, vol. xi., 1881, pp. 564-568). The truth is 
that mathematics, as we have tried to show in a former work, deals 
and can deal only with lengths. It has therefore had to seek devices, 
first, to transfer to the movement, which is not a length, the divisibility 
of the line passed over, and then to reconcile with experience the idea 
(contrary to experience and full of absurdities) of a movement that is a 

length, that is, of a movement placed upon its trajectory and arbitrarily 
decomposable like it. 


meaning of the expression, or we shall find that, when 
we posit the subject “child,” the attribute ‘“ man” 
does not yet apply to it, and that, when we express 
the attribute “ man,” it applies no more to the subject 
“child.” The reality, which is the ¢ransition from 
childhood to manhood, has slipped between our fingers. 
We have only the imaginary stops “ child” and “ man,” 
and we are very near to saying that one of these stops 
is the other, just as the arrow of Zeno 7s, according 
to that philosopher, at all the points of the course. 
The truth is that if language here were moulded on 
reality, we should not say “ The child becomes the 
man,” but “There is becoming from the child to the 
man.” In the first proposition, “ becomes ”’ is a verb 
of indeterminate meaning, intended to mask the 
absurdity into which we fall when we attribute the 
state “man” to the subject “child.” It behaves in 
much the same way as the movement, always the same, 
of the cinematographical film, a movement hidden in the 
apparatus and whose function it is to superpose the 
successive pictures on one another in order to imitate 
the movement of the real object. In the second pro- 
position, “ becoming” is a subject. It comes to the 
front. It is the reality itself ; childhood and manhood 
are then only possible stops, mere views of the mind; 
we now have to do with the objective movement itself, 
and no longer with its cinematographical imitation. 
But the first manner of expression is alone conformable 
to our habits of language. We must, in order to 
adopt the second, escape from the cinematographical 
mechanism of thought. 

We must make complete abstraction of this mechan- 
ism, if we wish to get rid at one stroke of the theoretical 
absurdities that the question of movement raises. All 



is obscure, all is contradictory when we try, with states, 
to build up a transition. The obscurity is cleared up, 
the contradiction vanishes, as soon as we place ourselves 
along the transition, in order to distinguish states in it 
by making cross cuts therein in thought. The reason 
is that there is more in the transition than the series of 
states, that is to say, the possible cuts,—more in the 
movement than the series of positions, that is to say, 
the possible stops. Only, the first way of looking at 
things is conformable to the processes of the human 
mind ; the second requires, on the contrary, that we 
reverse the bent of our intellectual habits. No wonder, 
then, if philosophy at first recoiled before such an 
effort. The Greeks trusted to nature, trusted the 
natural propensity of the mind, trusted language above 
all, in so far as it naturally externalizes thought. 
Rather than lay blame on the attitude of thought 
and language toward the course of things, they pre- 
ferred to pronounce the course of things itself to be 

Such, indeed, was the sentence passed by the philo- 
sophers of the Eleatic school. And they passed it with- 
out any reservation whatever. As becoming shocks | 
the habits of thought and fits ill into the moulds of | 
language, they declared it unreal. In spatial movement | 
and in change in general they saw only pure illusion. 
This conclusion could be softened down without chang- 
ing the premisses, by saying that the reality changes, 
but that it ought not to change. ' Experience confronts 
us with becoming: that is sensible reality. But the 
intelligible reality, that which ought to be, is more real 
still, and that reality does not change. Beneath the 
qualitative becoming, beneath the evolutionary becom- 
ing, beneath the extensive becoming, the mind must 


“time and, as it were, plucked out of eternity. That 


seek that which defies change, the definable quality, the 
form or essence, the end. Such was the fundamental 
principle of the philosophy which developed throughout 
the classic age, the philosophy of Forms, or, to use a 
term more akin to the Greek, the philosophy of Ideas. 

The word eiSos, which we translate here by “ Idea,” 
has, in fact, this threefold meaning. It denotes (1) the 
quality, (2) the form or essence, (3) the end or design 
(in the sense of intention) of the act being performed, 
that is to say, at bottom, the design (in the sense of 
drawing) of the act supposed accomplished. These 
three aspects are those of the adjective, substantive and 
verb, and correspond to the three essential categories of 
language. After the explanations we have given 
above, we might, and perhaps we ought to, translate 
eldos by “view” or rather by “ moment.” For ei8os 
is the stable view taken of the instability of things : 
the guality, which is a moment of becoming ; the form, 
which is a moment of evolution ; the essence, which is 
the mean form above and below which the other forms 
are arranged as alterations of the mean; finally, the 
intention or mental design which presides over the 
action being accomplished, and which is nothing else, 
we said, than the material design, traced out and con- 
templated beforehand, of the action accomplished. To 
reduce things to Ideas is therefore to resolve becoming 
into its principal moments, each of these being, more- 

~~ over, by the hypothesis, screened from the laws of 

"4 | is to say that we end in the philosophy of Ideas 



_ when we apply the cinematographical mechanism of 
_the intellect to the analysis of the real. 

But, when we put immutable Ideas at the base of 
the moving reality, a whole physics, a whole cosmology, 


a whole theology follows necessarily. We must insist 
on the point. Not that we mean to summarize in 
a few pages a philosophy so complex and so com- 
prehensive as that of the Greeks. But, since we 
have described the cinematographical mechanism of 
the intellect, it is important that we should show to 
what idea of reality the play of this mechanism leads. 
It is the very idea, we believe, that we find in the 
ancient philosophy. The main lines of the doctrine 
that was developed from Plato to Plotinus, passing 
through Aristotle (and even, in a certain measure, 
through the Stoics), have nothing accidental, nothing 
contingent, nothing that must be regarded as a philo- 
sopher’s fancy. They indicate the vision that a 
systematic intellect obtains of the universal becoming 
when regarding it by means of snapshots, taken at 
intervals, of its flowing. So that, even to-day, we 
shall philosophize in the manner of the Greeks, we 
shall rediscover, without needing to know them, such 
and such of their general conclusions, in the exact 
proportion that we trust in the cinematographical 
instinct of our thought. 

We said there is more in a movement than in the 
successive positions attributed to the moving object, © 
more in a becoming than in the forms passed through 
in turn, more in the evolution of form than the forms 
assumed one after another. Philosophy can therefore 
derive terms of the second kind from those of the 
first, but not the first from the second: from the first 
terms speculation must take its start. But the intellect 
reverses the order of the two groups; and, on this 
point, ancient philosophy proceeds as the intellect does. 
It installs itself in the immutable, it posits only Ideas. 


Yet becoming exists: it is a fact. How, then, having 
posited immutability alone, shall we make change come 
forth from it? Not by the addition of anything, for, 
by the hypothesis, there exists nothing positive outside 
Ideas. It must therefore be by a diminution. So at 

seep — ee es 

the base of ancient philosophy lies necessarily 1 this postu- 

late: that there is more in the motionless than in the 
moving, and that we pass from immutability to becom- 
ing by way of diminution or attenuation. 

It is therefore something negative, or zero at most, 
that must be added to Ideas to obtain change. In that 
consists the Platonic “non-being,” the Aristotelian 
“matter ’’—a metaphysical zero which, joined to the 
Idea, like the arithmetical zero to unity, multiplies 
it in space and time. By it the motionless and 
simple Idea is refracted into a movement spread out 
indefinitely. In right, there ought to be nothing but 
immutable Ideas, immutably fitted to each other. In 
fact, matter comes to add to them its void, and thereby 
lets loose the universal becoming. It is an elusive 
nothing, that creeps between the Ideas and creates 
endless agitation, eternal disquiet, like a suspicion 
insinuated between two loving hearts. Degrade the 
immutable Ideas: you obtain, by that alone, the per- 
petual flux of things. The Ideas or Forms are the 
whole of intelligible reality, that is to say, of truth, 
in that they represent, all together, the theoretical equi- 
librium of Being. As to sensible reality, it is a perpetual 
oscillation from one side to the other of this point of 

Hence, throughout the whole philosophy of Ideas 
there is a certain conception of duration, as also of the 
relation of time to eternity. He who installs himself 


the fundamental reality. The Forms, which the mind 
isolates and stores up in concepts, are then only snap- 
shots of the changing reality. They are moments 
gathered along the course of time ; and, just because 
we have cut the thread that binds them to time, they 
no longer endure. They tend to withdraw into their 
own definition, that is to say, into the artificial 
reconstruction and symbolical expression which is their 
intellectual equivalent. They enter into eternity, if 
you will ; but what is eternal in them is just what is 
unreal. On the contrary, if we treat becoming by the 
cinematographical method, the Forms are no longer 
snapshots taken of the change, they are its constitutive 
elements, they represent all that is positive in Becom- 
ing. Eternity no longer hovers over time, as an 
abstraction ; it underlies time, as a reality. Such is 
exactly, on this point, the attitude of the philosophy 
of Forms or Ideas. It establishes between eternity 
and time the same relation as between a piece of 
gold and the small change—change so small that pay- 
ment goes on for ever without the debt being paid 
off. The debt could be paid at once with the piece 
of gold. It is this that Plato expresses in his mag- 
nificent language when he says that God, unable to 
make the world eternal, gave it Time, “a moving 
image of eternity.” ? 

Hence also arises a certain conception of extension, 
which is at the base of the philosophy of Ideas, although 
it has not been so explicitly brought out. Let us 
imagine a mind placed alongside becoming, and adopt- 
ing its movement. Each successive state, each quality, 
each form, in short, will be seen by it asa mere cut 
made by thought in the universal becoming. It will be 

1 Plato, Timaeus, 37 D. 


found that form is essentially extended, inseparable as 
it is from the extensity of the becoming which has 
materialized it in the course of its flow. Every form 
thus occupies space, as it occupies time. But the philo- 
sophy of Ideas follows the inverse direction. It starts 
from the Form; it sees in the Form the very essence of 
reality. It does not take Form as a snapshot of becom- 
ing ; it posits Forms in the eternal ; of this motionless 
eternity, then, duration and becoming are supposed to be 
only the degradation. Form thus posited, independent 
of time, is then no longer what is found in a percep- 
tion ; it is a concept. And, asa reality of the conceptual 
order occupies no more of extension than it does of dura- 
tion, the Forms must be stationed outside space as well 
as above time. Space and time have therefore necessarily, 
in ancient philosophy, the same origin and the same 
value. The same diminution of being is expressed both 
by extension in space and detension in time. Both of 
these are but the distance between what is and what 
ought to be. From the standpoint of ancient philo- 
sophy, space and time can be nothing but the field 
that an incomplete reality, or rather a reality that 
has gone astray from itself, needs in order to run 
in quest of itself. Only it must be admitted that 
the field is created as the hunting progresses, and 
that the hunting in some way deposits the field 
beneath it. Move an imaginary pendulum, a mere 
mathematical point, from its position of equilibrium : 
a perpetual oscillation is started, along which points are 
placed next to points, and moments succeed moments. 
The space and time which thus arise have no more 
“ positivity’ than the movement itself. They repre- 
sent the remoteness of the position artificially given to 
the pendulum from its normal position, what it lacks 


in order to regain its natural stability. Bring it 
back to its normal position: space, time and motion 
shrink to a mathematical point. Just so, human 
reasonings are drawn out into an endless chain, 
but are at once swallowed up in the truth seized 
by intuition, for their extension in space and time 
is only the distance, so to speak, between thought 
and truth.’ So of extension and duration in relation 
to pure Forms or Ideas. The sensible forms are 
before us, ever about to recover their ideality, ever 
prevented by the matter they bear in them, that is to 
say, by their inner void, by the interval between what 
they are and what they ought to be. They are for 
ever on the point of recovering themselves, for ever 
occupied in losing themselves. An inflexible law 
condemns them, like the rock of Sisyphus, to fall 
back when they are almost touching the summit, and 
this law, which has projected them into space and time, 
is nothing other than the very constancy of their 
original insufficiency. The alternations of generation 
and decay, the evolutions ever beginning over and 
over again, the infinite repetition of the cycles of 
celestial spheres—this all represents merely a certain 
fundamental deficit, in which materiality consists. Frill 
up this deficit: at once you suppress space and time, 
that is to say, the endlessly renewed oscillations around 
a stable equilibrium always aimed at, never reached. 
Things re-enter into each other. What was extended 
in space is contracted into pure Form. And past, 
present, and future shrink into a single moment, 
which is eternity. 

1 We have tried to bring out what is true and what false in this idea, 
so far as spatiality is concerned (see Chapter III.). It seems to us radically 
false as regards duration 



This amounts to saying that physics is but logic 
spoiled. In this proposition the whole philosophy 
of Ideas is summarized. And in it also is the 
hidden principle of the philosophy that is innate in our 
understanding. If immutability is more than _be- 
coming, form is more than change, and it is by a 
veritable fall that the logical system of Ideas, rationally 
subordinated and codrdinated among themselves, is 
scattered into a physical series of objects and events 
accidentally placed one after another. The generative 
idea of a poem is developed in thousands of imaginations 
which are materialized in phrases that spread themselves 
out in words. And the more we descend from the 
motionless idea, wound on itself, to the words that 
unwind it, the more room is left for contingency 
and choice. Other metaphors, expressed by other 
words, might have arisen; an image is called up 
by an image, a word by a word. All these words 
run now one after another, seeking in vain, by them- 
selves, to give back the simplicity of the generative 
idea. Our ear only hears the words; it therefore 
perceives only accidents. But our mind, by successive 
bounds, leaps from the words to the images, from the 
images to the original idea, and so gets back, from the 
perception of words—accidents called up by accidents 
—to the conception of the Idea that posits its own 
being. So the philosopher proceeds, confronted with 
the universe. Experience makes to pass before his 
eyes phenomena which run, they also, one behind 
another in an accidental order determined by circum- 
stances of time and place. This physical order—a 
degeneration of the logical order—is nothing else but 
the fall of the logical into space and time. But the 
philosopher, ascending again from the percept to the 


concept, sees condensed into the logical all the positive 
reality that the physical possesses. His intellect, doing 
away with the materiality that lessens being, grasps 
being itself in the immutable system of Ideas. Thus 
Science is obtained, which appears to us, complete and 
ready-made, as soon as we put back our intellect into 
its true place, correcting the deviation that separated 
it from the intelligible. Science is not, then, a human 
construction. It is prior to our intellect, independent 
of it, veritably the generator of Things. 

And indeed, if we hold the Forms to be simply 
snapshots taken by the mind of the continuity of 
becoming, they must be relative to the mind that 
thinks them, they can have no independent existence. 
At most we might say that each of these Ideas is an 
ideal. But it is in the opposite hypothesis that we 
are placing ourselves. Ideas must then exist by 
themselves. Ancient philosophy could not escape this 
conclusion. Plato formulated it, and in vain did 
Aristotle strive to avoid it. Since movement arises 
from the degradation of the immutable, there could 
be no movement, consequently no sensible world, if 
there were not, somewhere, immutability realized. 
So, having begun by refusing to Ideas an independent 
existence, and finding himself nevertheless unable to 
deprive them of it, Aristotle pressed them into each 
other, rolled them up into a ball, and set above the 
physical world a Form that was thus found to be 
the Form of Forms, the Idea of Ideas, or, to use his 
own words, the Thought of Thought. Such is the 
God of Aristotle—necessarily | immutable and apart from 
what 15 happening in 1 the world, since he is only the 
synthesis of all concepts in a single concept. ‘It is true 
that no one of the manifold concepts could exist apart, 


such as it is in the divine unity: in vain should 
we look for the Ideas of Plato within the God 
of Aristotle. But if only we imagine the God of 
Aristotle in a sort of refraction of himself, or simply 
inclining toward the world, at once the Platonic Ideas 
are seen to pour themselves out of him, as if they 
were involved in the unity of his essence: so rays 
stream out from the sun, which nevertheless did not 
contain them. It is probably this possibility of an 
outpouring of Platonic Ideas from the Aristotelian 
God that is meant, in the philosophy of Aristotle, 
by the active intellect, the vods that has been called 
moumtixos—that is, by what is essential and yet un- 
conscious in human intelligence. The vods countexds is 
Science entire, posited all at once, which the conscious, 
discursive intellect 1s condemned to reconstruct with 
difficulty, bit by bit. There is then within us, or 
rather behind us, a possible vision of God, as the 
Alexandrians said, a vision always virtual, never actually 
realized by the conscious intellect. In this intuition 
we should see God expand in Ideas. This it is 
that “does everything,”’* playing in relation to the 
discursive intellect, which moves in time, the same rdéle 
as the motionless Mover himself plays in relation to the 
movement of the heavens and the course of things. 
There is, then, immanent in the philosophy of 
Ideas, a particular conception of causality, which it is 
important to bring into full light, because it is that 
which each of us will reach when, in order to ascend 
to the origin of things, he follows to the end the 
natural movement of the intellect. True, the ancient 

1 Aristotle, De anima, 430 a 14 kal orw 6 wey Towodros vots Tw wdvTa 
ylvecOar, 6 5¢ 7G wdvta rovetv, ws es Tis, olov 7d Pas> tpbwov ydp Twa Kal 
rd pds wove? TA Suvdue bvTa xpwuata évepyela Xpwpara, 


philosophers never formulated it explicitly. They 
confined themselves to drawing the consequences of it, 

and, in general, they have marked but points of view 

of it rather than presented it itself. Sometimes, indeed, 
they speak of an aétraction, sometimes of an impulsion 
exercised by the prime mover on the whole of the 
world. Both views are found in Aristotle, who shows 
us in the movement of the universe an aspiration of 
things toward the divine perfection, and consequently 
an ascent toward God, while he describes it elsewhere 
as the effect of a contact of God with the first 
sphere and as descending, consequently, from God to 
things. The Alexandrians, we think, do no more 
than follow this double indication when they speak 
of procession and conversion. Everything is derived 
from the first principle, and everything aspires to 
return to it. But these two conceptions of the divine 
causality can only be identified together if we bring 
them, both the one and the other, back to a third, which 
we hold to be fundamental, and which alone will enable 
us to understand, not only why, in what sense, things 
move in space and time, but also why there is space and 
time, why there is movement, why there are things. 
This conception, which more and more shows 
through the reasonings of the Greek philosophers as we 
go from Plato to Plotinus, we may formulate thus: 
The affirmation of a reality implies the simultaneous 
affirmation of all the degrees of reality intermediate between 
it and nothing. ‘The principle is evident in the case of 
number: we cannot affirm the number 10 without 
thereby affirming the existence of the numbers 9, 8, 7, 
. . ., etc.—in short, of the whole interval between 10 
and zero. But here our mind passes naturally from the 
sphere of quantity to that of quality. It seems to us — 


that, a certain perfection being given, the whole 
continuity of degradations is given also between this 
perfection, on the one hand, and the nought, on the 
other hand, that we think we conceive. Let us 
then posit the God of Aristotle, thought of thought 
—that is, thought making a circle, transforming itself 
from subject to object and from object to subject by an 
instantaneous, or rather an eternal, circular process: as, 
on the other hand, the nought appears to posit itself, 
and as, the two extremities being given, the interval 
between them is equally given, it follows that all the 
descending degrees of being, from the divine perfection 
down to the “absolute nothing,” are realized automa- 
tically, so to speak, when we have posited God. 

Let us then run through this interval from top to 
bottom. First of all, the slightest diminution of the 
first principle will be enough to precipitate Being into 
space and time; but duration and extension, which 
represent this first diminution, will be as near as possible 
to the divine inextension and eternity. We must there- 
fore picture to ourselves this first degradation of the 
divine principle as a sphere turning on itself, imitating, 
by the perpetuity of its circular movement, the eternity 
of the circle of the divine thought; creating, moreover, 
its own place, and thereby place in general,’ since it 
includes without being included and moves without 
stirring from the spot ; creating also its own duration, 
and thereby duration in general, since its movement is 
the measure of all motion.” Then, by degrees, we shall 

1 De caelo, ii. 287 a 12 Ths éoxdrns wepipopas otre xevdv eorw EEwher 
otre réros. Phys. iv. 212 a 34 70 6¢ way For ev ws Kwyjoerat Erte dws od, 
ws wey yap 8rov, dua rdv Tdmov od pmeraBdrrer KUKAW Oe Kiv}oETAL, TOY poplwy 
yap odros 6 ré7os. 

2 De caelo, i. 279 a 12 ovd xpbvos early ew rod odpavod. Phys. viii. 
251 b 27 6 xpbvos mdos TL Kwjoews. 


see the perfection decrease, more and more, down to our 
sublunary world, in which the cycle of birth, growth 
and decay imitates and mars the original circle for the 
last time. So understood, the causal relation between 
God and the world is seen as an attraction when regarded 
from below, as an impulsion or a contact when 
regarded from above, since the first heaven, with its 
circular movement, is an imitation of God _and-all 
imitation is the reception of a form. Therefore, we 
perceive God as efficient cause or as final cause, 
according to the point of view. And yet neither of 
these two relations is the ultimate causal relation. 
The true relation is that which is found between the 
two members of an equation, when the first member is 
a single term and the second a sum of an endless 
number of terms. It is, we may say, the relation of 
the gold-piece to the small change, if we suppose the 
change to offer itself automatically as soon as the gold- 
piece is presented. Only thus can we understand why 
Aristotle has demonstrated the necessity of a first 
motionless mover, not by founding it on the assertion 
that the movement of things must have had a beginning, 
but, on the contrary, by affirming that this movement 
could not have begun and can never come to an end. 
If movement exists, or, in other words, if the small 
change is being counted, the gold-piece is to be found 
somewhcre. And if the counting goes on for ever, 
having never begun, the single term that is eminently 
equivalent to it must be eternal. A_ perpetuity of only if it is backed by an eternity 
of immutability, which it unwinds in a chain without 
beginning or end... 

Such is the last word of the Greek philosophy. We 
have not attempted to reconstruct it a priori. It has 


manifold origins. It is connected by many invisible 
threads to the soul of ancient Greece. Vain, therefore, 
the effort to deduce it from a simple principle.’ But if 
everything that has come from poetry, religion, social 
life and a still rudimentary physics and biology be 
removed from it, if we take away all the light material 
that may have been used in the construction of the 
stately building, a solid framework remains, and this 
framework marks out the main lines of a metaphysic 
which is, we believe, the natural metaphysic of the 
human intellect. We come to a philosophy of this 
kind, indeed, whenever we follow to the end, the cine- 
matographical tendency of perception and thought. 
Our perception and thought begin by substituting for 
the continuity of evolutionary change a series of un- 
changeable forms which are, turn by turn, caught “on 
the wing,” like the rings at a merry-go-round, which 
the children unhook with their little stick as they are 
passing. Now, how can the forms be passing, and on 
what “stick’’ are they strung? As the stable forms 
have been obtained by extracting from change everything 
that is definite, there is nothing left, to characterize the 
instability on which the forms are laid, but a negative 
_ attribute, which must be indetermination itself. Such 
is the first proceeding of our thought: it dissociates each 
\ change into two elements—the one stable, definable for 
each particular case, to wit, the Form ; the other indefin- 
able and always the same, Change in general. And such, 
also, is the essential operation of language. Forms are 
all that it is capable of expressing. It is reduced to 
taking as understood or is limited to suggesting a 

1 Especially have we left almost entirely on one side those admirable 
but somewhat fugitive intuitions that Plotinus was later to seize, to study 
and to fix. 


mobility which, just because it is always unexpressed, 
is thought to remain in all cases the same.—Then 
comes in a philosophy that holds the dissociation thus 
effected by thought and language to be legitimate. 
What can it do, except objectify the distinction with 
more force, push it to its extreme consequences, reduce 
it into a system? It will therefore construct the real, 
on the one hand, with definite Forms or immutable 
elements, and, on the other, with a principle of mobility 
which, being the negation of the form, will, by the 
hypothesis, escape all definition and be the purely in- 
determinate. The more it directs its attention to the 
forms delineated by thought and expressed by language, 
the more it will see them rise above the sensible and 
become subtilised into pure concepts, capable of entering 
one within the other, and even of being at last massed 
together into a single concept, the synthesis of all reality, 
the achievement of all perfection. The more, on the 
contrary, it descends toward the invisible source of the 
universal mobility, the more it will feel this mobility 
sink beneath it and at the same time become void, 
vanish into what it will call the “non-being.” Finally, 
it will have on the one hand the system of ideas, logically 
codrdinated together or concentrated into one only, on 
the other a quasi-nought, the Platonic “‘ non-being ” or 
the Aristotelian “ matter.”—But, having cut your cloth, 
you must sew it. With supra-sensible Ideas and an 
infra-sensible non-being, you now have to reconstruct 
the sensible world. You can do so only if you postulate 
a kind of metaphysical necessity in virtue of which the 
confronting of this All with this Zero is equivalent to 
the affirmation of all the degrees of reality that measure 
the interval between them,—just as an undivided 
number, when regarded as a difference between itself 


and zero, is revealed as a certain sum of units, and 
with its own affirmation affirms all the lower numbers. 
That is the natural postulate. It is that also that we 
perceive as the base of the Greek philosophy. In order 
then to explain the specific characters of each of these 
degrees of intermediate reality, nothing more is necessary 
than to measure the distance that separates it from the 
integral reality. Each lower degree consists in a diminu- 
tion of the higher, and the sensible newness that we 
perceive in it is resolved, from the point of view of 
the intelligible, into a new quantity of negation which 
is superadded to it. The smallest possible quantity of 
negation, that which is found already in the highest 
forms of sensible reality, and consequently @ fortiori in 
the lower forms, is that which is expressed by the most 
general attributes of sensible reality, extension and 
duration. By increasing degradations we will obtain attri- 
butes more and more special. Here the philosopher’s 
fancy will have free scope, for it is by an arbitrary decree, 
or at least a debatable one, that a particular aspect of the 
sensible world will be equated with a particular diminu- 
tion of being. We shall not necessarily end, as Aristotle 
did, in a world consisting of concentric spheres turning 
on themselves. But we shall be led to an analogous 
cosmology—I mean, to a construction whose pieces, 
though all different, will have none the less the same 
relations between them. And this gosmology will 
be ruled by the same principle. The physical will 
be defined by the logical. Beneath the changing 
phenomena will appear to us, by transparence, a closed 
system of concepts subordinated to and coérdinated with 
each other. Science, understood as the system of con- 
cepts, will be more real than the sensible reality. It will 
be prior to human knowledge, which is only able to spell 



it letter by letter ; prior also to things, which awkwardly 
try to imitate it. It would only have to be diverted an 
instant from itself in order to step out of its eternity 
and thereby coincide with all this knowledge and all 
these things. Its immutability is therefore, indeed, the 
cause of the universal becoming. 

Such was the point of view of ancient philosophy 
in regard to change and duration. ‘That modern philo- 
sophy has repeatedly, but especially in its beginnings, 
had the wish to depart from it, seems to us unquestion- 
able. But an irresistible attraction brings the intellect 
back to its natural movement, and the metaphysic of 
the moderns to the general conclusions of the Greek 
metaphysic. We must try to make this point clear, 
in order to show by what invisible threads our 
mechanistic philosophy remains bound to the ancient 
philosophy of Ideas, and how also it responds to the 
requirements, above all practical, of our understanding. 

Modern, like ancient, science proceeds according to 
the cinematographical method. It cannot do otherwise ; 
all science is subject to this law. For it is of the 
essence of science to handle sigus, . which it substi- 

“tutés for the objects themselves, These signs un- 

~doubtedly differ from those of language by their 
greater precision and their higher efficacy ; they are none 
the less tied down to the general condition of the sign, 
‘which i is to denote a fixed aspect of the reality under an” ~ 
_arrested_ form.” “In order to think movement; a con- “YE 
~stantly renewed €ffort of the mind is necessary, _, Signs da \ 
“are made-to-dispense-us-with this effort_by substituting, 

for the moving continuity of things, an artificial recon- 

__Struction-whichis-its equivalent in pr: mene and has the 
advantage-of—being easily handled. But let us leave 


aside the means and consider only the end. What is 

the essential_object-of-sciencet._It_is to. enlarge_our —— 
nce over things. Science may be speculative in 
its form, disinterested in its immediate ends ; in other 
words we may give it as long a credit as it wants. 
But, however long the day of reckoning may be put 
off, some time or other the payment must be made. 
It is always then, in short, practical utility that science 
has in view. Even when it launches into theory, 

it is bound to adapt its behaviour to the general 
form of practice. However high it may rise, it must 

be ready to fall back into the field of action, and at 

once to get on its feet. This would not be possible 

for it, if its rhythm differed absolutely from that of 
action itself. Now action, we have said, proceeds by 
leaps. To act is to re-adapt oneself. To know, that 

is to say, to foresee in order to act, is then to go from 
situation to situation, from arrangement to rearrange- 
ment. Science may tone rearrangements that come 
closer and closer-to each other ; it may thus increase 

the number of m noments_that 1t- ‘Teolates; but it always — 
jsolates moments... As to what happens in the interval 
“between the m6ments, science is no more concerned 

with that than are our common intelligence, our senses 

and our language : it does not bear on the interval, but 
only on_the extremities....So_the cinemintoorephical 
method forces itself upon our science, as it did already 
‘on that of the ancients. 

~ Wherein, then, is the difference between the two 
sciences ? We indicated it when we said that the ancients 
reduced the physical order to the vital order, that is to 
say, laws to genera, while the moderns try to resolve 
genera into laws. But we have to look at it in another 
aspect, which, moreover, is only a transposition of the 


et en 


first. Wherein consists the difference of attitude of 

the two sciences toward change? We may formu- \ 

late it by saying that ancient science thinks it knows its 
object sufficiently when tt has noted of it some privileged 
moments, whereas modern science considers the object at 
any moment whatever. 

The forms or ideas of Plato or of Aristotle corre- 
spond to privileged or salient moments in the history 
of things—those, in general, that have been fixed by 
language. They are supposed, like the childhood or 
the old age of a living being, to characterize a period 
of which they express the quintessence, all the rest 
of this period being filled by the passage, of no interest 
in itself, from one form to another form. Take, for 
instance, a falling body. It was thought that we got 
near enough to the fact when we characterized it as a 
whole: it was a movement downward; it was the 
tendency toward a centre ; it was the natural movement 
of a body which, separated from the earth to which it 

belonged, was now going to find its place again._ 
They noted, then, the final term or culminating point J 

(rédos, axun) and set it up as the essential moment: 
this moment, that language has retained in order 

to express the whole of the fact, sufficed also for 
science to characterize it. In the physics of Aristotle, 
it is by the concepts “high” and “low,”’ spontaneous 
displacement and forced displacement, own place and 
strange place, that the movement of a body shot into 
space or falling freely is defined. But Galileo thought 
there was no essential moment, no privileged instant. 
To study the falling body is to consider it at it matters 
not what moment in its course. The true science of 
gravity is that which will determine, for any moment 
of time whatever, the position of the body in space. 


For this, indeed, signs far more precise than those 
of language are required. 

We may say, then, that our physics differs from 
that of the ancients chiefly in the indefinite breaking up 
of time. For the ancients, time comprises as many 
undivided periods as our natural perception and our 
language cut out in it successive facts, each presenting 
a kind of individuality. For that reason, each of 
these facts admits, in their view, of only a fsotal 
definition or description. If, in describing it, we are 
led to distinguish phases in it, we have several facts 
instead of a single one, several undivided periods 
instead of a single period ; but time is always supposed 
to be divided into determinate periods, and the mode 
of division to be forced on the mind by apparent 
crises of the real, comparable to that of puberty, by 
the apparent release of a new form.—For a Kepler or 
a Galileo, on the contrary, time is not divided objec- 
tively in one way or another by the matter that fills it. 
It has no natural articulations. We can, we ought to, 
divide it as we please. All moments count. None 
of them has the right to set itself up as a moment 
that represents or dominates the others. And, conse- 
quently, we know a change only when we are able 
to determine what it is about at any one of its 
moments.—— nei a 
The difference is profound. In fact, in a certain — 
aspect it is radical. But, from the point of view from 
which we are regarding it, it is a difference of degree 
rather_than_of kind. The human mind has passed ~ 
~ from the first kind of knowledge to the second through ——— 
~ gradual perfecting, simply by See 
There is the same relation between these two sciences 
as between the noting of the phases of a movement by 


the eye and the much more complete recording of 
these phases by instantaneous photography. It is the 
same cinematographical mechanism in both cases, Dit 
reaches a precision in the second that it cannot~havesie=—~ 
“the first. Of thé gallop of a horse our eye perceives 

‘chiefly a characteristic, essential or rather schematic 
attitude, a form that appears to radiate over a whole 
period and so time-of paltop.— It is this attitude — 
that sculpture has fixed on the frieze of the Parthenon. 
~But instantaneous photography isolates any moment ; 
it puts them all in the same rank, and thus the e gallop 
of a horse spreads out for it into as many successive 
attitudes as it wishes, instead of massing itself into a 
single attitude, which 1s_supposed—te—flash—eut—ina___ 
privileged moment and to illuminate a whole period, 
~—~From—thts~original—differénce flow all the others. 
A science that considers, one after the other, undivided 
periods of duration, sees nothing but phases succeeding 
phases, forms replacing forms; it is content with a 
qualitative description of objects, which it likens to 
organized beings. But when we seek to know what 
happens within one of these periods, at any moment of 
time, we are aiming at something entirely different. 
The changes which are produced from one moment to 
another are no longer, by the hypothesis, changes of 
quality ; they are quantitative variations, it may be of the 
phenomenon itself, it may be of its elementary parts. We 
were right then to say that modern science is distinguish- 
able from the that it applies to magnitudes 

__and proposes first and foremost to measure them. ~The 
ancients did indeed-try-experiments;-amd on the other 
hand Kepler tried no experiment, in the proper sense 
of the word, in order to discover a law which is the 
very type of scientific knowledge as we understand it. 


What distinguishes modern science is not that it is 
experimental, but that it experiments and, more 
generally, works only with a view to measure. 

For that reason it 1s right, again, to say that ancient 
science applied to concepts, while modern science seeks 
laws,—constant relations between variable magnitudes. 
The concept of circularity was sufficient to Aristotle 
to define the movement of the heavenly bodies. But, 
€ven with the more accurate concept of elliptical 
form, Kepler did not think he had accounted for 
the movement of planets. He had to get a law, that 
is to say, a constant relation between the quantitative 
variations of two or several elements of the planetary 

/ Yet these are only consequences,—differences that 

{ follow-from the fundamental difference. It did happen 
to the ancients accidentally to experiment with a view 
to measuring, as also to discover a law expressing a 
constant relation between magnitudes. The principle 
of Archimedes is a true experimental law. It takes 
into account three variable magnitudes: the volume 
of a body, the density of the liquid in which the body 
is immersed, the vertical pressure that is being exerted. 
And it states indeed that one of these three terms is a 
function of the other two. 

The essential, original difference must therefore be 
sought elsewhere. It is the same that we noticed first. 
The_ science of the.ancients—is—static. Either it 


considers in block the change that it studies, or, if 
it divides the change into periods, it makes of each of 
these periods a block in its turn: which amounts to 
saying that it takes no account of time. But modern 
science has been built up around the discoveries of 
Galileo and of Kepler, which immediately furnished it 

ype eT 


with a model. Now, what do the laws of Kepler say ? 
They lay down a relation between the areas described 
by the heliocentric radius-vector of a planet and the 
time employed in describing them, a relation between 
the longer axis of the orbit and the “me taken up by 
the course. And what was the principle discovered by 
Galileo? A law which connected the space traversed 
by a falling body with the time occupied by the fall. 
Furthermore, in what did the first of the great 
transformations of geometry in modern times consist, 
if not in introducing—in a veiled form, it is true—time 
and movement even in the consideration of figures? 
For the ancients, geometry was a purely static science. 
Figures were given to it at once, completely finished, 
like the Platonic Ideas. But the essence of the 
Cartesian geometry (although Descartes did not give 
it this form) was to regard every plane curve as de- 
scribed by the movement of a point on a movable 
straight line which is displaced, parallel to itself, along 
the axis of the abscissae,—the displacement of the 
movable straight line being supposed to be uniform and 
the abscissa thus becoming representative of the time. 
The curve is then defined if we can state the relation 
connecting the space traversed on the movable straight 
line to the time employed in traversing it, that is, if 
we are able to indicate the position of the movable 
point, on the straight line which it traverses, at any 
moment whatever of its course. This relation is just 

what we call the equation of the curve. To substitute : 

an equation for a figure consists, therefore, in seeing es 

the actual position of the moving points in “the, tracing 
of the _curve eat “any-moment whatever, instead of re- 

Sat ‘ding this, tracing all at or Ace; Satheredupin theunique: 

f moment ie wen the curve has reached its finished state. 

XEN so 28M 7% 
eee RE TEAS SAE SOY waka 

Fo ae ead 




Such, then, was the directing idea of the reform 
by which both the science of nature and mathematics, 
which serves as its instrument, were renewed. Modern 
science is the daughter of astronomy ; it has come 
down from heaven to earth along the inclined plane of 
Galileo, for it is through Galileo that Newton and his 
successors are connected with Kepler. Now, how did 
the astronomical problem present itself to Kepler? 
The question was, knowing the respective positions 
of the planets at a given moment, how to calculate 
their positions at any other moment. So the same 
question presented itself, henceforth, for every material 
system. Each material point became a rudimentary 
planet, and the main question, the ideal problem whose 
solution would yield the key to all the others was, the _ 

a a eee 

‘given, how to dete ermine their relative positions at any 

—Fioment. No doubt the problem cannot be put in these 
precise terms except in very simple cases, for a schema- 
tized reality ; for we never know the respective positions 
of the real elements of matter, supposing there are 
real elements ; and, even if we knew them at a given 
moment, the calculation of their positions at another 
moment would generally require a mathematical effort 
surpassing human powers. But it is enough for us to 
know that these elements might be known, that their 
present positions might be noted, and that a superhuman 
intellect might, by submitting these data to mathematical 
operations, determine the positions of the elements at 
any other moment of time. This conviction is at the 
bottom of the questions we put to ourselves on the 
subject of nature, and of the methods we employ to 
solve them. _That is why every law in static form 

_seems to us asa  oasiond lie eee a 


EE i | 


view _of a dynamic law _which—alone—would-—-sive—us—— 

whole and definitive knowledge. 

Let us conclude, then, iat our science is not only 
distinguished from ancient science in this, that it seeks 
laws, nor even in this, that its laws set forth relations 
between magnitudes : we must add that the magnitude 
to which we wish to be able to relate all others is time, 
and that modern science must be defined pre-eminently by 
its aspiration to take time as an independent variable. 
But with what time has it to do? 

We have said before, and we cannot repeat too often, 
that the science of matter proceeds like ordinary know- 
ledge. It perfects this knowledge, increases its precision 
and its scope, but it works in the same direction and 
puts the same mechanism into play. If, therefore, 
ordinary knowledge, by reason of the cinematographical 

mechanism to which it 1s subjected, forbears  to.follow.. 

becoming 1 in so far as becoming is moving, the science of 

hia ang 



> ea atta 

matter renounces it equally. _No doubt, it distinguishes 
as “great a a number of moments as we wish in the interval 
of time it considers. However small the intervals may 
be at which it stops, it authorizes us to divide them again 

if necessary. In contrast with ancient _science,, which 

stopped at certain so-called essential moments, it. is 

occupied. indifferently. with.any-moment whatever. “But 

Which amounts 

words, as thé -very~mobility of being, escapes ‘the hold - 

~-of “scientific knowledge. We have already tried to 

establish-thts-peint-im-a former work. We alluded to 
it again in the first chapter of this book. But it is 
necessary to revert to it once more, in order to clear 
up misunderstandings. 

it always considers. moments, always.virtual--stopping~. 
ane places, always, in. short, immobilities._ : 
~.to_saying that real time, regarded as a flux, or, in other 


When positive science speaks of time, what it refers 
to is the movement of a certain mobile T on its tra- 
jectory. This movement has been chosen by it as 
representative of time, and it is, by definition, uniform. 
Let us call T,, T,, T,, . . . etc., points which divide 
the trajectory of the mobile into equal parts from its 
origin Ty. We shall say that 1, 2, 3, ... units of 
time have flowed past, when the mobile is at the points 
Ay Au Ly» + « OF the line itstraverses,  Accordingiy, 
to consider the state of the universe at the end of a 
certain time /, is to examine where it will be when T 
is at the point T;, of its course. But of the flux itself 
of time, still less of its effect on COnstiOUusHESS, There 1s 

here no question ; for there enter into the catculation—- 
only the points I, T., T,,..°:.:.-taken On; tne che: 
never the flux itself. We may narrow the time con- 
sidered as much as we will, that is, break up at will the 
interval between two consecutive divisions T, and 
Try; but it is always with points, and with points 
only, that we are dealing. What we retain of the 
movement of the mobile T are positions taken on its 
trajectory. What we retain of all the other points of 
the universe are their positions on their respective 
trajectories. To each virtual stop of the moving body 
T at the points of division T,, T,, T,,.. . we make 
correspond a virtual stop of all the other mobiles at the 
points where they are passing. And when we say that 
a movement or any other change has occupied a time 
t, we mean by it that we have noted a number ¢ of 
correspondences of this kind. We have therefore 
counted simultaneities ; we have not concerned our- 
selves with the flux that goes from one to another. 
The proof of this is that I can, at discretion, vary the 
rapidity of the flux of the universe in regard to a 



consciousness that is independent of it and that would 
perceive the variation by the quite qualitative feeling 
that it would have of it: whatever the variation had 
been, since the movement of T would participate in 
this variation, I should have nothing to change in my 
equations nor in the numbers that figure in them. 

Let us go further. Suppose that the rapidity of the 
flux becomes infinite. Imagine, as we said in the first 
pages of this book, that the trajectory of the mobile 
T is given at once, and that the whole history, past, 
present and future, of the material universe is spread 
out instantaneously in space. The same mathematical 
correspondences will subsist between the moments of 
the history of the world unfolded like a fan, so to 
speake and’ ‘the divisions “I, T “Ly . 9. of tHe 
line which will be called, by definition, “the course 
of time.” In the eyes of science nothing will have 
changed... But if, time thus spreading itself out in space 
and succession becoming” juxtaposition,” science. has... 
nothing what.1t.tells us, we must conclude 
that, in what it tells us, it takes account neither of SUCCES 
sion in what of i it is specific nor of time in what there i is 

.init_that is fluent. It has no sign to express what 
_-strikes our “consciotsness i ccession and duration. 
It no more applies to a 
moving, than the bridges thrown here and _ there 
across the stream follow the water that flows under 
their arches. 

Yet succession exists ; I am conscious of it; it isa 
fact. When a physical process is going on before my 
eyes, my perception and my inclination have nothing 
to do with accelerating or retarding it. What is 
important to the physicist is the xumber of units of 
duration the process fills ; he does not concern himself 


about the units themselves, and that is why the suc- 
cessive states of the world might be spread out all at 
once in space without his having to change anything 
in his science or to cease talking about time. But for 
us, conscious beings, it is the units that matter, for we 
_do not count extremities of intervals, we feel and live 
_ the ‘intervals themselves. _ Now, we are conscious of 
these intervals as of definite intervals. Let me come 
back again to the sugar in my glass of water :’ why 
must I wait for it to melt ? While the duration of 
the phenomenon is re/ative for the physicist, since it is 
reduced to a certain number of units of time and the 
units themselves are indifferent, this duration is an _ 
absolute for my consciousness, for it coincides with a 
_ certain degree of impatience which is rigorously deter-. 
mined. ~ “beable comes this determination ? “What i is 
it that obliges me to wait, and to wait for a certain 
length of psychical duration which is forced upon me, 
over which I have no power? If succession, in so far 
as distinct from mere juxtaposition, has no real efficacy, 
if time is not a kind of force, why does the universe 
unfold its successive states with a velocity which, in 
regard to my consciousness, is a veritable absolute? 
Why with this particular velocity rather than any 
other? Why not with an infinite velocity? Why, 
in other words, is not everything given at once, as on 
the film of the cinematograph? The more I consider 
this point, the more it seems to me that, if the future is 
bound to succeed the present instead of being given 
alongside of it, it is because the future is not altogether 
determined at the present moment, and that if the 
time taken up by this succession is something other 
than a number, if it has for the consciousness that is 

1 See-page 10. 


<nstalled in it absolute value and realit is. because~—. 
_there_i ds 3_unceasingly being oie nde in 
any such artificially isolated system as a glass of sugared 
water, but in the concrete whole of which every such 
system forms part, something unforeseeable and. new.— 
This duration may not be the fact of matter itself, but 
that of the life which reascends the course of matter ; the 
two movements are none the less mutually dependent 
upon each other. The duration. of -the-universe-must 
therefore be one with- the--latitude of creation-whith™can™ 

| find place in it. 

<= When a child plays at reconstructing a picture by 
putting together the separate pieces in a puzzle game, 
the more he practises, the more and more quickly he 
succeeds. The reconstruction was, moreover, instan- 
taneous, the child found it ready-made, when he opened 
the box on leaving the shop. The operation, therefore, 
does not require a definite time, and indeed, theoretically, 
it does not require any time. That is because the result 
is given. It is because the picture is already created, and 
because to obtain it requires only a work of recom- 
posing and rearranging—a work that can be supposed 
going faster and faster, and even infinitely fast, up to 
the point of being instantaneous. But, to the artist 
who creates a picture by drawing it from the depths 
of his soul, time is no longer an accessory ; it is not 
an interval that may be lengthened or shortened with- 
out the content being altered. The duration of his | 

“ cel of his work. To contract or to 
dilate it would be to modify both the psychical evolution 
that fills it and the invention which is its goal. The _ 

_ time taken up by the invention is one with the in- 
_vention itseli i * ~ sof a eee ee 

rane ne 



form. It isa vital process, 7 siihecdat 5 like ae ripening 

of an idea. 

‘The iste) is before his canvas, the colours are on 
the palette, the model is sitting—all this we see, and 
also we know the painter’s style: do we foresee what 

' will appear on the canvas? We possess the elements 

— oe 

of the problem ; we know, in an abstract way, how it 
will be solved, for the portrait will surely resemble the 
model and will surely resemble also the artist ; but the 
concrete solution brings with it that unforeseeable~ 

nothing which is everything in a work of art. And it 
_is this nothing that takes time. Nought as 5 matter, it 

creates itself as form. The sprouting and flowering 
of this form are stretched out on an _ unshrinkable 
duration which is one with their essence. So of the 
works of nature. Their novelty arises from an internal 
impetus which is progress or succession, which confers 
on succession a peculiar virtue or which owes to succes- 
sion the whole of its virtue,—which, at any rate, makes 
succession, or continuity of interpenetration in time, irre- 
ducible to a mere instantaneous juxtaposition in space. 
This is why the idea of reading in a present state of the 
material universe the future of living forms, and of 
unfolding now their history yet to come, involves a 
veritable absurdity. But this absurdity is difficult to 
bring out, because our memory is accustomed to place 
alongside of each other, in an ideal space, the terms it 
perceives in turn, because it always represents past suc- 
cession in the form of juxtaposition. It is able to do so, 
indeed, just because the past belongs to that which is 
already invented, to the dead, and no longer to creation 
and to life. Then, as the succession to come will end by 
being a succession past, we persuade ourselves that the 
duration to come admits of the same treatment as past 



duration, that it is, even now, unrollable, that the 
future is there, rolled up, already painted on the 
canvas. An illusion, no doubt, but an illusion that 
is natural, ineradicable, and that will last as long as the 
human mind ! 

Time is invention or tt is nothing at all. But of time-_ 
invention physics can take no account, restricted as 
it 1s to the _cinematographical method. 7 It is limited 
“to counting simultaneities—betweenthe events that 
make up this time and the positions of the mobile 
T on its trajectory. It detaches these events from. 
the whole, which at every moment puts on a new 
form and which communicates to them something of 
its novelty. It considers them in the abstract, such as 

_they would be outside of the living whole, that’is-to*~ 
-say, inatime unrolled. in space, It retains only the events 
or systems of events that can be thus isolated without 
being made to undergo too profound a deformation, 
because only these lend themselves to the application 
of its method. Our physics dates from the day when 
it was known how to isolate such systems. To sum 
up, while modern physics is distinguished. from ancient 
__physics by the fact that it considers any moment of time 
whatever, it rests altogether ona substitution. of simnenlengih —— 
__for ‘time-invention 

It seems then that, parallel to this physics, a second ( 
kind of knowledge oy to have grown up, which 
could have retained what physics allowed to escape. 

On the flux itself of duration science neither would™ 
“nor could OR bound’ as“it™was~to~thé"cinemato-" 
graphical-method-~-TThis second kind of knowledge aR. 
“would have set the ‘cinematographical method aside, It 
would have called upon the mind to renounce its most 
cherished habits. It is within becoming that it would 



have transported us by an effort of sympathy. We 
should no longer be asking where a moving body will 
be, what shape a system will take, through what state a 
change will pass at a given moment: the moments 
of time, which are only arrests of our attention, would 
no longer exist; it is the flow of time, it is the very 

flux of the eal" that we should be trying ~to~followan. 

~—-The_first kindof knowledee~has-theé advantage of en- 

abling us to foresee the aoe and of making usin some. 
_measure Masters of e1 events ; in return, it retains of the. 
“moving reality only sventnal immobilities, that is to 
say, views taken of it by our mind. - It symbolizes the 
real and transposes it into the human rather~ than 
_ expresses it. The other knowledge, if it is possible, 
is practically useless, it will not extend-our-empire — —~ 
over nature, it will even go against certain natural 
aspirations of the intellect; but, if it succeeds, it is 
reality itself that it will hold in a firm aie 
embrace. Not only may we thus complete the intellect © 
and its knowledge of matter by accustoming it to 
install itself within the moving, but by developing 
also another faculty, complementary to the intellect, 
we may open a perspective on the other half of the 
real. For, as soon as we are confronted with true 
duration, we see that it means creation, and that if 
that which is being unmade endures, it can only be 

because it is inseparably _ bound. to_what_is_ _making— 
itself. . Thus will appear the necessity of a continual 
‘growth of the universe, I should say of a Uife of the 
real. And thus will be seen in a new light the life 
which we find on the surface of our planet, a life 
directed the same way as that of the universe, and 
inverse of materiality. To intellect, in short, there 
will be added intuition. 



The more we reflect on it, the more we shall find 
that this S_conception « of metaphysics is that which 


modern science suggests. Se 
~-For_theancients,—indeed;~time is sheer catty 

Teale Rees the duration of a thing only 

manifests the degradation of its essence: it is with 

this motionless essence that science has to deal. 

Change being only the effort of a form toward its own 
realization, the realization is all that it concerns us to 
know. No doubt the realization is never complete : 
it is this that ancient philosophy expresses by saying 
that we do not perceive form without matter. But if 
we consider the changing object at a certain essential 
moment, at its apogee, we may say that there it just 
touches its intelligible form. This intelligible form, 
this ideal and, so to speak, limiting form, our science 
seizes upon. And possessing | in this the gold-piece, 
it holds eminently the small money which we call 
becoming or change. This change is less than being. 
The knowledge that would take it for object, sup- 
posing such knowledge were possible, would be less 
than science. 

But, for a science that places all the moments of 
time in the same rank, that admits no essential moment, 
no culminating point, no apogee, ‘change is no longer , / 
a diminution of essence, duration is not a dilution Ui 

of ¢ eternity. The flux of of time_is the reality itself, and. 

_the things which we study are the things.. ak ot pie 

It is true that of this flowing reality. we. are limited to 
taking instantaneous views. But, just because of this,” 
scientific” “knowledge must ‘appeal to another know- 
ledge to completé it. “While the-ancient-conception- of" 

setentific-knowledge“énded in making time a degrada- 

tion, and change the diminution of a form given from 


all eternity,—on the contrary, by following the new 
conception to the end, we .should come to see in 
time a progressive growth of the absolute; and in the 
~ evolution of ‘things a continual | invention of forms as 
_ever_ new. 
It is true that it would be to break with the meta- 
physics of the ancients. _They saw only one way of 
_ knowing definitely. Their science consisted ina 
scattered and | fragmentary metaphysics, their meta- ~~ 

_ physics i ina concentrated and systematic science. “Their 

we science and “metaphysics. were, at.most, two species. ot. 
_- one and the same_genus. In our hypothesis, on the 
‘contrary, science and metaphysics are two opposed 
sat ‘although complementary ways of knowing, the first 
taining only moments, that is to say, that which does 
not endure, the second bearing on duration itself. Now, 
..» tit was natural to hesitate between so novel a conception 
~. of metaphysics and the traditional conception. The 
temptation must have been strong to repeat with the 
new science what had been tried on the old, to suppose 
our scientific knowledge of nature completed at once, = 
to unify 1 it entirely, and to give to this unification, ‘as 
the Greeks had already done, the name of metaphysics. 
“So, beside the new way that philosophy might have 
prepared, the old remained open, that indeed which 
physics trod. And, as physics retained of time only 
what could as well be spread out all at once in space, — 
the metaphysics that chose the same direction had 
necessarily to proceed as if time created and annihilated 
ing, as if duration had no efficacy. Bound, like © 
the physics of the moderns and the metaphysics of 
the ancients, to the cinematographical method, it 
ended with the conclusion, implicitly admitted at 

start and immanent in the method itself ice is given 



That metaphysics hesitated at first between the two 
paths seems to us unquestionable. The indecision 
is visible in Cartesianism. On the one hand, Descartes 
affirms universal mechanism: from this point of view 
movement would be relative,’ and, as time has just 
as much reality as movement, it would follow that past, 
present and future are given from all eternity. But, on 
the other hand (and that is why the philosopher has 
not gone to these extreme consequences), Descartes 
believes in the free will of man. He superposes on 
the determinism of physical phenomena the indeter- 
minism of human actions, and, consequently, on time- 
length a time in which there is invention, creation, 
true succession. This duration he supports on a 
God who is unceasingly renewing the creative act, 
and who, being thus tangent to time and becoming, 
sustains them, communicates to them necessarily some- 
thing of his absolute reality. When he places himself 
at this second point of view, Descartes speaks of 
movement, even spatial, as of an absolute.” 

He therefore entered both roads one after the 
other, having resolved to follow neither of them to 
the end. The first would have led him to the denial 
of free will in man and of real will in God. It was 
the suppression of all efficient duration, the likening 
of the universe to a thing given, which a super- 
human intelligence would embrace at once in a 
moment or in eternity. In following the second, on 
the contrary, he would have been led to all the 
consequences which the intuition of true duration 
implies. Creation would have appeared not simply 
as continued, but also as continuous. The universe, 
regarded as a whole, would really evolve. The future 

1 Descartes, Principes, ii. § 29. 2 [bid. ii. §§ 36 fF. 


would no longer be determinable by the present ; at 
most we might say that, once realized, it can be 
found again in its antecedents, as the sounds of a new 
language can be expressed with the letters of an old 
alphabet if we agree to enlarge the value of the letters 
and to attribute to them, retro-actively, sounds which 
no combination of the old sounds could have pro- 
duced beforehand. Finally, the mechanistic explana- 
tion might have remained universal in this, that it 
can indeed be extended to as many systems as we 
choose to cut out in the continuity of the universe ; 
but mechanism would then have become a method 
rather than a doctrine. It would have expressed 
the fact that science must proceed after the cine- 
matographical manner, that the function of science 
is to scan the rhythm of the flow of things and 
not to fit itself into that flow.—Such were the two 
opposite conceptions of metaphysics which were offered 
to philosophy. 

It chose the first. The reason of this choice is 
undoubtedly the mind’s tendency to follow the cine- 
matographical method, a method so natural to our 
intellect, and so well adjusted also to the require- 
ments of our science, that we must feel doubly sure 
of its speculative impotence to renounce it in meta- 
physics. But ancient philosophy also influenced the 
choice. Artists for ever admirable, the Greeks created 
a type of suprasensible truth, as of sensible beauty, 
whose attraction is hard to resist. As soon as we 
incline to make metaphysics a systematization of 
science, we glide in the direction of Plato and of 
Aristotle. And, once in the zone of attraction in 
which the Greek philosophers moved, we are drawn 
along in their orbit. 


Such was the case with Leibniz, as also with Spinoza. 
We are not blind to the treasures of originality their 
doctrines contain. Spinoza and Leibniz have poured 
into them the whole content of their souls, rich with 
the inventions of their genius and the acquisitions of 
modern thought. And there are in each of them, es- 
pecially in Spinoza, flashes of intuition that break through 
the system. But if we leave out of the two doctrines 
what breathes life into them, if we retain the skeleton 
only, we have before us the very picture of Platonism 
and Aristotelianism seen through Cartesian mechanism. 
They present to us a systematization of the new | 
physics, constructed on the model of the ancient | 
metaphysics. | 

What, indeed, could the unification of physics be? 
The inspiring idea of that science was to isolate, within 
the universe, systems of material points such that, the 
position of each of these points being known at a given 
moment, we could then calculate it for any moment 
whatever. As, moreover, the systems thus defined were 
the only ones on which the new science had hold, and 
as it could not be known beforehand whether a system 
satisfied or did not satisfy the desired condition, it was 
useful to proceed always and everywhere as if the 
condition was realized. There was in this a methodo- 
logical rule, a very natural rule,—so natural, indeed, 
that it was not even necessary to formulate it. For 
simple common sense tells us that when we are 
possessed of an effective instrument of research, and 
are ignorant of the limits of its applicability, we should 
act as if its applicability were unlimited; there will 
always be time to abate it. But the temptation must 
have been great for the philosopher to hypostasize this 
hope, or rather this impetus, of the new science, and to 


convert a general rule of method into a fundamental 
law of things. So he transported himself at once to 
the limit; he supposed physics to have become com- 
plete and to embrace the whole of the sensible world. 
The universe became a system of points, the position 
of which was rigorously determined at each instant by 
relation to the preceding instant and theoretically 
calculable for any moment whatever. The result, in 
short, was universal mechanism. But it was not enough 
to formulate this mechanism: what was required 
was to found it, to give the reason for it and prove 
its necessity. And the essential affirmation of mechan- 
ism being that of a reciprocal mathematical dependence 
of all the points of the universe, as also of all the 
moments of the universe, the reason of mechanism had 
to be discovered in the unity of a principle into which 
could be contracted all that is juxtaposed in space and 
successive in time. Hence, the whole of the real was 
supposed to be given at once. The reciprocal deter- 
mination of the juxtaposed appearances in space was 
explained by the indivisibility of true being, and the 
inflexible determinism of successive phenomena in time 
simply expressed that the whole of being is given in 
the eternal. 

The new philosophy was going, then, to be a 
recommencement, or rather a transposition, of the old. 
The ancient philosophy had taken each of the concepts 
into which a becoming is concentrated or which mark its 
apogee : 1t supposed them all known, and gathered them 
up into a single concept, form of forms, idea of ideas, 
like the God of Aristotle. The new philosophy was 
going to take each of the Jews which condition a becom- 
ing in relation to others and which are as the per- 
manent substratum of phenomena: it would suppose 


them all known, and would gather them up into a 
unity which also would express them eminently, but 
which, like the God of Aristotle and for the same 
reasons, must remain immutably shut up in itself. 
True, this return to the ancient philosophy was 
not without great difficulties. When a Plato, an 
Aristotle, or a Plotinus melt all the concepts of their 
science into a single one, in so doing they embrace the 
whole of the real, for concepts are supposed to represent 
the things themselves, and to possess at least as much 
positive content. But a law, in general, expresses 
only a relation, and physical laws in particular express 
only quantitative relations between concrete things. 
So that if a modern philosopher works with the laws of 
the new science as the Greek philosopher did with the 
concepts of the ancient science, if he makes all the 
conclusions of a physics supposed omniscient converge 
on a single point, he neglects what is concrete in the 
phenomena—the qualities perceived, the perceptions 
themselves. His synthesis comprises, it seems, only a 
fraction of reality. In fact, the first result of the new 
science was to cut the real into two halves, quantity 
and quality, the former being credited to the account 
of dodies and the latter to the account of sou/s. The 
ancients had raised no such barriers either between 
quality and quantity or between soul and body. For 
them, the mathematical concepts were concepts like the 
others, related to the others and fitting quite naturally 
into the hierarchy of the Ideas. Neither was the body 
then defined by geometrical extension, nor the soul by 
consciousness. If the wuy7 of Aristotle, the entelechy 
of a living body, is less spiritual than our “soul,” it 
is because his c@pa, already impregnated with the Idea, 

is less corporeal than our “ body.”” The scission was 


not yet irremediable between the two terms. It has 
become so, and thence a metaphysic that aims at an 
abstract unity must resign itself either to comprehend 
in its synthesis only one half of the real, or to take 
advantage of the absolute heterogeneity of the two 
halves in order to consider one as a translation of the 
other. Different phrases will express different things 
if they belong to the same language, that is to say, if 
there is a certain relationship of sound between them. 
But if they belong to two different languages, they 
might, just because of their radical diversity of sound, 
express the same thing. So of quality and quantity, of 
soul and body. It is for having cut all connection 
between the two terms that philosophers have been led 
to establish between them a rigorous parallelism, of 
which the ancients had not dreamed, to regard them as 
translations and not as inversions of each other ; in 
short, to posit a fundamental identity as a substratum 
to their duality. The synthesis to which they rose 
thus became capable of embracing everything. A 
divine mechanism made the phenomena of thought to 
correspond to those of extension, each to each, qualities 
to quantities, souls to bodies. 

It is this parallelism that we find both in Leibniz 
and in Spinoza—in different forms, it is true, because 
of the unequal importance which they attach to exten- 
sion. With Spinoza, the two terms Thought and Exten- 
sion are placed, in principle at least, in the same rank. 
They are, therefore, two translations of one and the 
same original, or, as Spinoza says, two attributes of one 
and the same substance, which we must call God. And 
these two translations, as also an infinity of others into 
languages which we know not, are called up and even 
forced into existence by the original, just as the essence 


of the circle is translated automatically, so to speak, 
both by a figure and by an equation. For Leibniz, on 
the contrary, extension is indeed still a translation, but 
it is thought that is the original, and thought might 
dispense with translation, the translation being made 
only for us. In positing God, we necessarily posit also 
all the possible views of God, that is to say, the monads, 
But we can always imagine that a view has been taken 
from a point of view, and it is natural for an imperfect 
mind like ours to class views, qualitatively different, 
according to the order and position of points of view, 
qualitatively identical, from which the views might 
have been taken. In reality the points of view do not 
exist, for there are only views, each given in an indi- 
visible block and representing in its own way the 
whole of reality, which is God. But we need to 
express the plurality of the views, that are unlike each 
other, by the multiplicity of the points of view that are 
exterior to each other ; and we also need to symbolize 
the more or less close relationship between the views 
by the relative situation of the points of view to one 
another, their nearness or their distance, that is to say, 
by a magnitude. That is what Leibniz means when 
he says that space is the order of coexistents, that the 
perception of extension is a confused perception (that 
is to say, a perception relative to an imperfect mind), 
and that nothing exists but monads, expressing thereby 
that the real Whole has no parts, but is repeated to 
infinity, each time integrally (though diversely) within 
itself, and that all these repetitions are complementary 
to each other. In just the same way, the visible relief 
of an object is equivalent to the whole set of stereo- 
scopic views taken of it from all points, so that, instead 
of seeing in the relief a juxtaposition of solid parts, 


we might quite as well look upon it as made of the 
reciprocal complementarity of these whole views, each 
given in block, each indivisible, each different from all 
the others and yet representative of the same thing. 
The Whole, that is to say, God, is this very relief for 
Leibniz, and the monads are these complementary 
plane views ; for that reason he defines God as “the 
substance that has no point of view,” or, again, as “the 
universal harmony,” that is to say, the reciprocal com- 
plementarity of monads. In short, Leibniz differs 
from Spinoza in this, that he looks upon the universal 
mechanism as an aspect which reality takes for us, 
whereas Spinoza makes of it an aspect which reality 
takes for itself. 

It is true that, after having concentrated in God the 
whole of the real, it became difficult for them to pass 
from God to things, from eternity to time. The diffi- 
culty was even greater for these philosophers than for 
an Aristotle or a Plotinus. The God of Aristotle, 
indeed, had been obtained by the compression and 
reciprocal compenetration of the Ideas that represent, in 
their finished state or in their culminating point, the 
changing things of the world. He was, therefore, 
transcendent to the world, and the duration of things 
was juxtaposed to His eternity, of which it was only 
a weakening. But in the principle to which we are led 
by the consideration of universal mechanism, and which 
must serve as its substratum, it 1s not concepts or shings, 
but laws or re/ations that are condensed. Now, a rela- 
tion does not exist separately. A law connects changing 
terms and is immanent in what it governs. The prin- 
ciple in which all these relations are ultimately summed 
up, and which is the basis of the unity of nature, can- 
not, therefore, be transcendent to sensible reality ; it is 


immanent in it, and we must suppose that it is at once 
both in and out of time, gathered up in the unity of its — 
substance and yet condemned to wind it off in an end- 
less chain. Rather than formulate so appalling a contra- 
diction, the philosophers were necessarily led to sacrifice 
the weaker of the two terms, and to regard the temporal 
aspect of things as a mere illusion. Leibniz says so in 
explicit terms, for he makes of time, as of space, a con- 
fused perception. While the multiplicity of his monads 
expresses only the diversity of views taken of the whole, 
the history of an isolated monad seems to be hardly 
anything else than the manifold views that it can take 
of its own substance : so that time would consist in all 
the points of view that each monad can assume towards 
itself, as space consists in all the points of view that all 
monads can assume towards God. But the thought of 
Spinoza is much less clear, and this philosopher seems to 
have sought to establish, between eternity and that which 
has duration, the same difference as Aristotle made 
between essence and accidents : a most difficult under- 
taking, for the A» of Aristotle was no longer there to 
measure the distance and explain the passage from the 
essential to the accidental, Descartes having eliminated 
it for ever. However that may be, the deeper we go 
into the Spinozistic conception of the “ inadequate,” as 
related to the “adequate,” the more we feel ourselves 
moving in the direction of Aristotelianism,—just as the 
Leibnizian monads, in proportion as they mark them- 
selves out the more clearly, tend to approximate to the 
Intelligibles of Plotinus... The natural trend of these 

1 In a course of lectures on Plotinus, given at the Collége de France in 
1897-1898, we tried to bring out these resemblances. They are numerous 
and impressive. The analogy is continued even in the formulae employed 
on each side. 


two philosophies brings them back to the conclusions 
of the ancient philosophy. 

To sum up, the resemblances of this new metaphysic 
to that of the ancients arise from the fact that both 
suppose ready-made—the former above the sensible, 
the latter within the sensible—a science one and com- 
plete, with which any reality that the sensible may 
contain is believed to coincide. For both, reality as 
well as truth are integrally given in eternity. Both 
are opposed to the idea of a reality that creates itself 
gradually, that is, at bottom, to an absolute duration. 

Now, it might easily be shown that the conclusions of 
this metaphysic, springing from science, have rebounded 
upon science itself, as it were, by ricochet. They 
penetrate the whole of our so-called empiricism. 
Physics and chemistry study only inert matter ; bio- 
logy, when it treats the living being physically and 
chemically, considers only the inert side of the living : 
hence the mechanistic explanations, in spite of their 
development, include only a small part of the real. To 
suppose a priori that the whole of the real is resolvable 
into elements of this kind, or at least that mechanism 
can give a complete translation of what happens in 
the world, is to pronounce for a certain metaphysic,— 
the very metaphysic of which Spinoza and Leibniz 
have laid down the principles and drawn the conse- 
quences. Certainly, the psycho-physiologist who affirms 
the exact equivalence of the cerebral and the psychical 
state, who imagines the possibility, for some super- 
human intellect, of reading in the brain what is going 
on in consciousness, believes himself very far from the 
metaphysicians of the seventeenth century, and very 
near to experience. Yet experience pure and simple 



tells us nothing of the kind. It shows us the inter- 
dependence of the mental and the physical, the necessity 
of acertain cerebral substratum for the psychical state,— 
nothing more. From the fact that two things are mutu- 
ally dependent, it does not follow that they are equiva- 
lent. Because a certain screw is necessary to a certain 
machine, because the machine works when the screw is 
there and stops when the screw is taken away, we do not 
say that the screw is the equivalent of the machine. For 
correspondence to be equivalence, it would be necessary 
that to any part of the machine a definite part of the 
screw should correspond—as in a literal translation in 
which each chapter renders a chapter, each sentence a 
sentence, each word a word. Now, the relation of the 
brain to consciousness seems to be entirely different. 
Not only does the hypothesis of an equivalence between 
the psychical state and the cerebral state imply a down- 
right absurdity, as we have tried to prove in a former 
essay, but the facts, examined without prejudice, cer- 
tainly seem to indicate that the relation of the psychical 
to the physical is just that of the machine to the screw. 
To speak of an equivalence between the two is simply 
to curtail, and make almost unintelligible, the Spinozis- 
tic or Leibnizian metaphysic. It1is to accept this philo- 
sophy, such as it is, on the side of Extension, but to 
mutilate it on the side of Thought. With Spinoza, 
with Leibniz, we suppose the unifying synthesis of the 
phenomena of matter achieved, and everything in matter 
explained mechanically. But, for the conscious facts, 
we no longer push the synthesis to the end. We stop 
half-way. We suppose consciousness to be coextensive 

1 “Le Paralogisme psycho-physiologique ” (Revue de métaphysique et de 
morale, Nov. 1904, pp. 895-908). Cf. Matiére et mémoire, Paris, 1896, 
chap. 1. 


with a certain part of nature and not with all of it. 
Weare thus led, sometimes to an “epiphenomenalism” 
that associates consciousness with certain particular 
vibrations and puts it here and there in the world ina 
sporadic state, and sometimes to a “monism” that 
scatters consciousness into as many tiny grains as there 
are atoms ; but, in either case, it is to an incomplete 
Spinozism or to an incomplete Leibnizianism that we 
come back. Between this conception of nature and 
Cartesianism we find, moreover, intermediate historical 
stages. The medical philosophers of the eighteenth 
century, with their cramped Cartesianism, have had a 
great part in the genesis of the “ epiphenomenalism ” 
and “monism”’ of the present day. 

These doctrines are thus found to fall short of the 
Kantian criticism. Certainly, the philosophy of Kant 
is also imbued with the belief in a science single and 
complete, embracing the whole of the real. Indeed, 
looked at from one aspect, it is only a continuation of 
the metaphysics of the moderns and a transposition of 
the ancient metaphysics. Spinoza and Leibniz had, 
following Aristotle, hypostasized in God the unity of 
knowledge. The Kantian criticism, on one side at 
least, consists in asking whether the whole of this 
hypothesis is necessary to modern science as it was to 
ancient science, or if part of the hypothesis is not 
sufficient. For the ancients, science applied to concepts, 
that is to say, to kinds of things. In compressing all 
concepts into one, they therefore necessarily arrived at 
a being, which we may call Thought, but which was 
rather thought-object than thought-subject. When 
Aristotle defined God the vorjoews vonaus, it is probably 
On vojncews, and not on venous that he put the emphasis. 


God was the synthesis of all concepts, the idea of 
ideas. But modern science turns on laws, that is, on 
relations. Now, a relation is a bond established by a 
mind between two or more terms. AQ relation is 
nothing outside of the intellect that relates. The 
universe, therefore, can only be a system of laws if 
phenomena have passed beforehand through the filter 
of an intellect. Of course, this intellect might be that 
of a being infinitely superior to man, who would found 
the materiality of things at the same time that he 
bound them together: such was the hypothesis of 
Leibniz and of Spinoza. But it is not necessary to go 
so far, and, for the effect we have here to obtain, the 
human intellect is enough : such is precisely the Kantian 
solution. Between the dogmatism of a Spinoza or a 
Leibniz and the criticism of Kant there is just the same 
distance as between “it may be maintained that —” 
and “it suffices that —.” Kant stops this dogmatism 
on the incline that was making it slip too far toward the 
Greek metaphysics ; he reduces to the strict minimum 
the hypothesis which is necessary in order to suppose 
the physics of Galileo indefinitely extensible. True, 
when he speaks of the human intellect, he means 
neither yours nor mine: the unity of nature comes 
indeed from the human understanding that unifies, 
but the unifying function that operates here is im- 
personal. It imparts itself to our individual con- 
sciousnesses, but it transcends them. It is much less 
than a substantial God; it is, however, a little more 
than the isolated work of a man or even than the 
collective work of humanity. It does not exactly lie 
within man; rather, man lies within it, as in an 
atmosphere of intellectuality which his consciousness 
breathes. It is, if we will, a formal God, something 


that in Kant is not yet divine, but which tends to 
become so. It became so, indeed, with Fichte. With 
Kant, however, its principal réle was to give to the whole 
of our science a relative and human character, although 
of a humanity already somewhat deified. From this 
point of view, the criticism of Kant consisted chiefly in 
limiting the dogmatism of his predecessors, accepting 
their conception of science and reducing to a minimum 
the metaphysic it implied. 

But it is otherwise with the Kantian distinction 
between the matter of knowledge and its form. By 
regarding intelligence as pre-eminently a faculty of estab- 
lishing relations, Kant attributed an extra-intellectual 
origin to the terms between which the relations are 
established. He affirmed, against his immediate pre- 
decessors, that knowledge is not entirely resolvable into 
terms of intelligence. He brought back into philo- 
sophy—while modifying it and carrying it on to 
another plane—that essential element of the philo- 
sophy of Descartes which had been abandoned by the 

Thereby he prepared the way for a new philosophy, 
which might have established itself in the extra- 
intellectual matter of knowledge by a higher effort of 
intuition. Coinciding with this matter, adopting the 
same rhythm and the same movement, might not con- 
sciousness, by two efforts of opposite direction, raising 
itself and lowering itself by turns, become able to grasp 
from within, and no longer perceive only from without, 
the two forms of reality, body and mind? Would not 
this twofold effort make us, as far as that is possible, 
re-live the absolute? Moreover, as, in the course of 
this operation, we should see intellect spring up of itself, 
cut itself out in the whole of mind, intellectual know- 


ledge would then appear as it is, limited, but not 

Such was the direction that Kantianism might have 
pointed out to a revivified Cartesianism. But in this 
direction Kant himself did not go. 

He would not, because, while assigning to knowledge 
an extra-intellectual matter, he believed this matter to 
be either co-extensive with intellect or less extensive 
than intellect. Therefore he could not dream of cutting 
out intellect in it, nor, consequently, of tracing the 
genesis of the understanding and its categories. The 
moulds of the understanding and the understanding itself 
had to be accepted as they are, already made. Between 
the matter presented to our intellect and this intellect 
itself there was no relationship. The agreement between 
the two was due to the fact that intellect imposed its 
form on matter. So that not only was it necessary 
to posit the intellectual form of knowledge as a kind 
of absolute and give up the quest of its genesis, but 
the very matter of this knowledge seemed too ground 
down by the intellect for us to be able to hope to get it 
back in its original purity. It was not the “ thing-in- 
itself,” it was only the refraction of it through our 

If now we inquire why Kant did not believe that 
the matter of our knowledge extends beyond its form, 
this is what we find. The criticism of our knowledge 
of nature that was instituted by Kant consisted in 
ascertaining what our mind must be and what Nature 
must be if the claims of our science are justified ; but 
of these claims themselves Kant has not made the 
criticism. I mean that he took for granted the idea of 
a science that is one, capable of binding with the same 
force all the parts of what is given, and of codrdinating 


them into a system presenting on all sides an equal 
solidity. He did not consider, in his Critique of Pure 
Reason, that science became less and less objective, 
more and more symbolical, to the extent that it went 
from the physical to the vital, from the vital to the 
psychical. Experience does not move, to his view, in 
two different and perhaps opposite ways, the one con- 
formable to the direction of the intellect, the other con- 
trary to it. There is, for him, only one experience, and 
the intellect covers its whole ground. This is what Kant 
expresses by saying that all our intuitions are sensuous, 
or, in other words, infra-intellectual. And this would 
have to be admitted, indeed, if our science presented in 
all its parts an equal objectivity. But suppose, on the 
contrary, that science is less and less objective, more 
and more symbolical, as it goes from the physical to the 
psychical, passing through the vital: then, as it is indeed 
necessary to perceive a thing somehow in order to sym- 
bolize it, there would be an intuition of the psychical, 
and more generally of the vital, which the intellect 
would transpose and translate, no doubt, but which 
would none the less transcend the intellect. There 
would be, in other words, a supra-intellectual intuition. 
If this intuition exist, a taking possession of the spirit 
by itself is possible, and no longer only a knowledge 
that is external and phenomenal. What is more, if 
we have an intuition of this kind (I mean an ultra- 
intellectual intuition), then sensuous intuition is likely to 
be in continuity with it through certain intermediaries, 
as the infra-red is continuous with the ultra-violet. 
Sensuous intuition itself, therefore, is promoted. It 
will no longer attain only the phantom of an unattain- 
able thing-in-itself. It is (provided we bring to it 
certain indispensable corrections) into the absolute 


itself that it will introduce us. So long as it was 
regarded as the only material of our science, it reflected 
back on all science something of the relativity which 
strikes a scientific knowledge of spirit ; and thus the 
perception of bodies, which is the beginning of the 
science of bodies, seemed itself to be relative. Relative, 
therefore, seemed to be sensuous intuition. But this is 
not the case if distinctions are made between the different 
sciences, and if the scientific knowledge of the spiritual 
(and also, consequently, of the vital) be regarded as the 
more or less artificial extension of a certain manner of 
knowing which, applied to bodies, is not at all symbolical. 
Let us go further : if there are thus two intuitions of 
different order (the second being obtained by a reversal 
of the direction of the first), and if it is toward the 
second that the intellect naturally inclines, there is no 
essential difference between the intellect and this in- 
tuition itself. The barriers between the matter of 
sensible knowledge and its form are lowered, as also 
between the “ pure forms ” of sensibility and the cate- 
gories of the understanding. The matter and form of 
intellectual knowledge (restricted to its own object) are 
seen to be engendering each other by a reciprocal 
adaptation, intellect modelling itself on corporeity, and 
corporeity on intellect. 

But this duality of intuition Kant neither would nor 
could admit. It would have been necessary, in order 
to admit it, to regard duration as the very stuff of 
reality, and consequently to distinguish between the 
substantial duration of things and time spread out in 
space. It would have been necessary to regard space 
itself, and the geometry which is immanent in space, as 
an ideal limit in the direction of which material things 
develop, but which they do not actually attain. Nothing 


could be more contrary to the letter, and perhaps also 
to the spirit, of the Critique of Pure Reason. No doubt, 
knowledge is presented to us in it as an ever-open roll, 
experience as a push of facts that is for ever going on. 
But, according to Kant, these facts are spread out on 
one plane as fast as they arise; they are external to 
each other and external to the mind. Of a knowledge 
from within, that could grasp them in their springing 
forth instead of taking them already sprung, that would 
dig beneath space and spatialized time, there is never 
any question. Yet it is indeed beneath this plane that 
our consciousness places us ; there flows true duration. 

In this respect, also, Kant is very near his pre- 
decessors. Between the non-temporal, and the time that 
is spread out in distinct moments, he admits no mean. 
And as there is indeed no intuition that carries us 
into the non-temporal, all intuition is thus found to 
be sensuous, by definition. But between physical 
existence, which is spread out in space, and non- 
temporal existence, which can only be a conceptual and 
logical existence like that of which metaphysical dog- 
matism speaks, is there not room for consciousness and 
for life? There is, unquestionably. We perceive it 
when we place ourselves in duration in order to go 
from that duration to moments, instead of starting 
from moments in order to bind them again and to 
construct duration. 

Yet it was to a non-temporal intuition that the 
immediate successors of Kant turned, in order to 
escape from the Kantian relativism. Certainly, the 
ideas of becoming, of progress, of evolution, seem to 
occupy a large place in their philosophy. But does 
duration really play a part in it? Real duration is that 
in which each form flows out of previous forms, while 


adding to them something new, and is explained by 
them as much as it explains them ; but to deduce this 
form directly from one complete Being which it is 
supposed to manifest, is to return to Spinozism. It 
is, like Leibniz and Spinoza, to deny to duration all 
efficient action. The post-Kantian philosophy, severe 
as it may have been on the mechanistic theories, accepts 
from mechanism the idea of a science that is one and 
the same for all kinds of reality. And it is nearer to 
mechanism than it imagines; for though, in the con- 
sideration of matter, of life and of thought, it replaces 
the successive degrees of complexity that mechanism 
supposed by degrees of the realization of an Idea or by 
degrees of the objectification of a Will, it still speaks of 
degrees, and these degrees are those of a scale which 
Being traverses in a single direction. In short, it 
makes out the same articulations in nature that 
mechanism does. Of mechanism it retains the whole 
design ; it merely gives it a different colouring. But 
it is the design itself, or at least one half of the design, 
that needs to be re-made. 

If we are to do that, we must give up the method 
of construction, which was that of Kant’s successors. 
We must appeal to experience—an experience purified, 
or, in other words, released, where necessary, from the 
moulds that our intellect has formed in the degree and 
proportion of the progress of our action on things. 
An experience of this kind is not a non-temporal 
experience. It only seeks, beyond the spatialized time 
in which we believe we see continual rearrangements 
between the parts, that concrete duration in which a 
radical recasting of the whole is always going on. It 
follows the real in all its sinuosities. It does not lead 
us, like the method of construction, to higher and 


higher generalities,—piled-up storeys of a magnifi- 
cent building. But then it leaves no play between the 
explanations it suggests and the objects it has to 
explain. It is the detail of the real, and no longer 
only the whole in a lump, that it claims to illumine. 

That the thought of the nineteenth century called 
for a philosophy of this kind, rescued from the arbitrary, 
capable of coming down to the detail of particular facts, 
is unquestionable. Unquestionably, also, it felt that 
this philosophy ought to establish itself in what we call 
concrete duration. The advent of the moral sciences, 
the progress of psychology, the growing importance of 
embryology among the biological sciences—all this was 
bound to suggest the idea of a reality which endures 
inwardly, which is duration itself. So, when a phil- 
osopher arose who announced a doctrine of evolution, 
in which the progress of matter toward perceptibility 
would be traced together with the advance of the mind 
toward rationality, in which the complication of corre- 
spondences between the external and the internal would 
be followed step by step, in which change would become 
the very substance of things—to him all eyes were 
turned. The powerful attraction that Spencerian evolu- 
tionism has exercised on contemporary thought is due 
to that very cause. However far Spencer may seem to 
be from Kant, however ignorant, indeed, he may have 
been of Kantianism, he felt, nevertheless, at his first 
contact with the biological sciences, the direction in 
which philosophy could continue to advance without 
laying itself open to the Kantian criticism. 

But he had no sooner started to follow the path 
than he turned off short. He had promised to retrace 
a genesis, and, lo! he was doing something entirely 


different. His doctrine bore indeed the name of 
evolutionism ; it claimed to remount and redescend 
the course of the universal becoming ; but, in fact, it 
dealt neither with becoming nor with evolution. 

We need not enter here into a profound examina- 
tion of this philosophy. Let us say merely that she 
usual device of the Spencerian method consists in recon- 
structing evolution with fragments of the evolved. If | 
paste a picture on a card and then cut up the card into 
bits, I can reproduce the picture by rightly grouping 
again the small pieces. And a child who working 
thus with the pieces of a puzzle-picture, and putting 
together unformed fragments of the picture, finally 
obtains a pretty coloured design, no doubt imagines 
that he has produced design and colour. Yet the act 
of drawing and painting has nothing to do with that 
of putting together the fragments of a picture already 
drawn and already painted. So, by combining together 
the most simple results of evolution, you may imitate 
well or ill the most complex effects; but of neither 
the simple nor the complex will you have retraced 
the genesis, and the addition of evolved to evolved 
will bear no resemblance whatever to the movement 
of evolution. 

Such, however, is Spencer’s illusion. He takes 
reality in its present form; he breaks it to pieces, 
he scatters it in fragments which he throws to the 
winds; then he “integrates” these fragments and 
“dissipates their movement.” Having imitated the 
Whole by a work of mosaic, he imagines he has 
retraced the design of it, and made the genesis. 

Is it matter that is in question? The diffused 
elements which he integrates into visible and tangible 

bodies have all the air of being the very particles of the 


simple bodies, which he first supposes disseminated 
throughout space. They are, at any rate, “ material 
points,” and consequently unvarying points, veritable 
little solids: as if solidity, being what is nearest and 
handiest to us, could be found at the very origin of 
materiality! The more physics progresses, the more 
it shows the impossibility of representing the properties 
of ether or of electricity,—the probable base of all 
bodies,—on the model of the properties of the matter 
which we perceive. But philosophy goes back further 
even than the ether, a mere schematic figure of the 
relations between phenomena apprehended by our 
senses. It knows indeed that what is visible and 
tangible in things represents our possible action on 
them. It is not by dividing the evolved that we 
shall reach the principle of that which evolves. It 
is not by recomposing the evolved with itself that we 
shall reproduce the evolution of which it is the term. 
Is it the question of mind? By compounding the 
reflex with the reflex, Spencer thinks he generates 
instinct and rational volition one after the other. 
He fails to see that the specialized reflex, being 
a terminal point of evolution just as much as 
perfect will, cannot be supposed at the start. That 
the first of the two terms should have reached its 
final form before the other is probable enough ; 
but both the one and the other are deposits of the 
evolution movement, and the evolution movement 
itself can no more be expressed as a function solely 
of the first than solely of the second. We must 
begin by mixing the reflex and the voluntary. We 
must then go in quest of the fluid reality which has 
been precipitated in this twofold form, and which 
probably shares in both without being either. At 


the lowest degree of the animal scale, in living beings 
that are but an undifferentiated protoplasmic mass, 
the reaction to stimulus does not yet call into play 
one definite mechanism, as in the reflex; it has not 
yet choice among several definite mechanisms, as in 
the voluntary act ; it is, then, neither voluntary nor 
reflex, though it heralds both. We experience in 
ourselves something of this true original activity 
when we perform semi-voluntary and semi-automatic 
movements to escape a pressing danger. And yet 
this is but a very imperfect imitation of the primitive 
character, for we are concerned here with a mixture 
of two activities already formed, already localized in 
a brain and in a spinal cord, whereas the original 
activity was a simple thing, which became diversified 
through the very construction of mechanisms like 
those of the spinal cord and brain. But to all this 
Spencer shuts his eyes, because it is of the essence of 
his method to recompose the consolidated with the 
consolidated, instead of going back to the gradual 
process of consolidation, which is evolution itself. 

Is it, finally, the question of the correspondence 
between mind and matter? Spencer is right in defining 
the intellect by this correspondence. He 1s right in 
regarding it as the end of an evolution. But when 
he comes to retrace this evolution, again he integrates 
the evolved with the evolved,—failing to see that he 
is thus taking useless trouble, and that in positing the 
slightest fragment of the actually evolved he posits 
the whole,—so that it is vain for him, then, to pretend 
to make the genesis of it. 

For, according to him, the phenomena that suche 
each other in nature project into the human mind 
images which represent them. To the relations between 


phenomena, therefore, correspond symmetrically rela- 
tions between the ideas. And the most general laws 
of nature, in which the relations between phenomena 
are condensed, are thus found to have engendered the 
directing principles of thought, into which the relations 
between ideas have been integrated. Nature, therefore, 
is reflected in mind. The intimate structure of our 
thought corresponds, piece by piece, to the very 
skeleton of things.—I admit it willingly; but, in 
order that the bias mind may be able to represent 
relations between phenomena, there must first be 
phenomena, that is to say, distinct facts, cut out in 
the continuity of becoming. And once we posit this 
particular mode of cutting up such as we perceive it 
to-day, we posit also the intellect such as it is to-day, 
for it is by relation to it, and to it alone, that reality is 
cut up in this manner. Is it probable that mammals 
and insects notice the same aspects of nature, trace in 
it the same divisions, articulate the whole in the same 
way? And yet the insect, so far as intelligent, has 
already something of our intellect. Each being cuts 
up the material world according to the lines that its 
action must follow: it is these lines of possible 
action that, by intercrossing, mark out the net of 
experience of which each mesh is a fact. No doubt, 
a town is composed exclusively of houses, and the 
streets of the town are only the intervals between 
the houses : so, we may say that nature contains only 
facts, and that, the facts once posited, the relations are 
simply the lines running between the facts. But, ina 
town, it is the gradual portioning of the ground into 
lots that has determined at once the place of the houses, 
their general shape, and the direction of the streets : to 
this portioning we must go back if we wish to understand 


the particular mode of subdivision that causes each 
house to be where it is, each street to run as it does. 
Now, the cardinal error of Spencer is to take experience 
already allotted as given, whereas the true problem is 
to know how the allotment was worked. I agree that 
the laws of thought are only the integration of relations 
between facts. But, when I posit the facts with the 
shape they have for me to-day, I suppose my faculties 
of perception and intellection such as they are in me 
to-day ; for it is they that portion the real into lots, they 
that cut the facts out in the whole of reality. There- 
fore, instead of saying that the relations between facts 
have generated the laws of thought, I can as well claim 
that it is the form of thought that has determined the 
shape of the facts perceived, and consequently their 
relations among themselves : the two ways of expressing 
oneself are equivalent ; they say at bottom the same 
thing. With the second, it is true, we give up 
speaking of evolution. But, with the first, we only 
speak of it, we do not think of it any the more. For 
a true evolutionism would propose to discover by 
what modus vivendt, gradually obtained, the intellect has 
adopted its plan of structure, and matter its mode of 
subdivision. This structure and this subdivision work 
into each other ; they are mutually complementary ; 
they must have progressed one with the other. And, 
whether we posit the present structure of mind or the 
present subdivision of matter, in either case we remain 
in the evolved : we are told nothing of what evolves, 
nothing of evolution. 

And yet it is this evolution that we must discover. 
Already, in the field of physics itself, the scientists who 
are pushing the study of their science furthest incline 
to believe that we cannot reason about the parts as we 


reason about the whole; that the same principles are 
not applicable to the origin and to the end of a pro- 
gress ; that neither creation nor annihilation, for instance, 
is inadmissible when we are concerned with the con- 
stituent corpuscles of the atom. Thereby they tend 
to place themselves in the concrete duration, in which 
alone there is true generation and not only a composi- 
tion of parts. It is true that the creation and annihila- 
tion of which they speak concern the movement or the 
energy, and not the imponderable medium through 
which the energy and the movement are supposed to 
circulate. But what can remain of matter when you 
take away everything that determines it, that is to say, 
just energy and movement themselves? The philosopher 
must go further than the scientist. Making a clean 
sweep of everything that is only an imaginative symbol, 
he will see the material world melt back into a simple 
flux, a continuity of flowing, a becoming. And he will 
thus be prepared to discover real duration there where 
it is still more useful to find it, in the realm of life 
and of consciousness. For, so far as inert matter is 
concerned, we may neglect the flowing without com- 
mitting a serious error: matter, we have said, is 
weighted with geometry; and matter, the reality 
which descends, endures only by its connection with 
that which ascends. But life and consciousness are this 
very ascension. When once we have grasped them in 
their essence by adopting their movement, we under- 
stand how the rest of reality is derived from them. 
Evolution appears and, within this evolution, the pro- 
gressive determination of materiality and intellectuality 
by the gradual consolidation of the one and of the 
other. But, then, it is within the evolutionary move- 
ment that we place ourselves, in order to follow it to 


its present results, instead of recomposing these results 
artificially with fragments of themselves. Such seems 
to us to be the true function of philosophy. So under- 
stood, philosophy is not only the turning of the mind 
homeward, the coincidence of human consciousness with 
the living principle whence it emanates, a contact with 
the creative effort: it is the study of becoming in 
general, it is true evolutionism and consequently the 
true continuation of science—provided that we under- 
stand by this word a set of truths either experienced 
or demonstrated, and not a certain new scholasticism 
that has grown up during the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century around the physics of Galileo, as the 
old scholasticism grew up around Aristotle. 



Abolition of everything a self-contra- 
diction, 295, 299, 312, 314 
idea: Of, 294, 295, 290, 311,333. 
See Nought 
Absence of order, 244, 247, 289. See 
Absolute and freedom, 293 
reality, 210, 241, 242, 283, 379, 381 
reality of the person, 283 
time and the, 253, 254, 315, 3595 364 
Absoluteness of duration, 217 
of understanding, xi, 50, 160, 201, 
208, 210 
Abstract becoming, 321-4 
multiplicity, 271-3 
time, 9, 18, 21-3, 39, 41, 48, 49, 54, 
172, 335-6, 354-5, 372-3 
Accident and essence in Aristotle’s 
philosophy, 373-4 
in evolution, g1-2, I10, 121, 133, 
179, 180, 265, 268, 269, 280, 281, 
Accidental variations, 58, 67, 72, 73, 
78, 90-91, 178 
Accumulation of energy, function of 
vegetable organisms, 267, 269 
Achilles and tortoise, in Zeno, 327-8, 
Acquired characters, inheritance of, 
80-3, 88-9, 92-3, 178, 179, 182-3, 
Act, consciousness as inadequacy of, to 
representation, 151 
form (or essence), quality, three 
classes of representation, 319-20 
Action, creativeness of free, 203, 261 
and concepts, 169, 313 
and consciousness, xiii, 5, 151, 152, 
189-90, 219, 275 
discontinuity of, 162, 323-4 
freedom of, in animals, 136-7 


as function of nervous system, 276, 

indivisibility of, 99, 100, 325-6 

and inert matter, 102, 143, 149, 164, 
197, 209, 238-9, 387 

instinct and, 143, 149 

instrument of, consciousness, 190 

instrument of, life, 171 

instrument of, matter, 170, 209-10 

as instrument of consciousness, 190 

and intellect. See Intellect and action 

intensity of consciousness varies with 
ratio of possible, to real, 152 

meaning of, 318-19 

moves from want to fulness, 313, 314 

organism a machine for, 266, 268, 

and perception, 5, 12, 13, 99, 198, 199, 
218, 239-42, 316-17, 323-4, 389 

possible, 12,.°14,. 102, FSI, 152, 154, 
167, 174, 189-91, 199, 278 

and science, 98, 206-7, 209-10, 347-8 

and space, 214 

sphere of the intellect, 164 

tension in a free, 210-11, 219, 250, 
252, 317-18 

Activity, dissatisfaction the starting-point 

of, 313 

of instinct, continuous with vital pro- 
cess, 146, 147 

life as, 135-6, 259 

mutually inverse factors in vital, 261, 

and nervous system, 115, 136-7, 139, 
141-2, 190, 266, 275-7 

organism as, 183-4 

potential. See Action, possible 

tension of free, 210-11, 213, 219, 
235-6, 250, 252, 317-18 

and torpor in evolution, 115, 117, 
119, 120 note, 126-7, 135-6, 142-3, 
191, 308 


vital, has evolved divergently, 141. 
See Divergent lines of evolution 
Adaptation, 54, 58, 60-61, 63, 74, 107, 

135-6, 138, 203, 269, 285, 322-3 
and causation, 107, 108 
mutual, between materiality and in- 
tellectuality, 197, 218 
and progress, 107 
Adequate and inadequate in Spinoza, 
Adjectives, substantives and verbs, 319- 
20, 331-2 
Aesthetics and philosophy, 186-7 
Affection, Role of, in the idea of 
chance, 247 
in the idea of nought, 297-9, 305, 309, 
_ BIT, 313, 314 
In negation, 302-3, 
Affirmation and negation, 301-2, 309 
Age and individuality, 16 
Albuminoid substances, 128-9 
Alciope, 101 
Alexandrian philosophy, 340, 341 
Algae in illustration of probable con- 
sciousness in vegetable forms, 118, 
Alimentation, 120, 123, 260 
Allegory of the Cave, 202 
Alternations of increase and decrease of 
mutability of the universe, 257-8 
Alveolar froth, 35-6 
Ambiguity of the idea of “generality’’ 
in philosophy, 243-4, 338-9 
of primitive organisms, 104, 118, 119, 
Ammophila hirsuta, paralysing instinct 
in, 182 
Amoeba, in illustration of imitation of 
the living by the unorganized, 35-8 
in illustration of the ambiguity of 
primitive organisms, 104 
in illustration of the mobility char- 
acteristic of animals, 114 
in illustration of the ‘‘ explosive” ex- 
penditure of energy characteristic of 
animals, 125-6, 266 
Anagenesis, 36 
Anarchy, idea of, 246, 247. See Dis- 
Anatomy, comparative, and transform- 
ism, 26 
Ancient philosophy, Achilles and tortoise, 
Alexandrian philosophy, 340, 341 
Allegory of the Cave, 202 
Anima (De), 340 note 
Apogee of sensible object, 362, 364, 
Archimedes, 352-3 

Aristotle, 141-2, 183-5, 239-40, 332-3, 
339, 341, 342, 346-52, 367, 369, 
374, 377, 389, 391 

Arrow of Zeno, 325-9 

ascent toward God, in Aristotle, 341 

Astronomy, ancient and modern, 

attraction and impulsion in, 341-2 

becoming in, 330-31, 334 

bow and indivisibility of motion, 325-6 

Caelo (De), of Aristotle, 340 note, 342 

and Cartesian geometry, 352-3 

causality in, 341, 343-4 

change in, 330-31, 334, 346-7, 362-4 

cinematographical nature of, 332-3 

circularity of God’s thought, 341-2 

concentric spheres, 346-7 

concepts, 344-5, 377 

“conversion” and  procession’’ in 

degradation of ideas into sensible flux, 
334-6, 339, 341-2, 345, 346-7, 
362-4, 372-3 

degrees of reality, 341-2, 345 

diminution, derivation of becoming 
by. See Degradation of Ideas, ete. 

duration, 334-7 nofe, 341-2, 345-7 

Eleatic philosophy, 324-5, 331-2 

Enneads of Plotinus, 222 note 

essence and accident, 374 

essence or form, 331-2 

eternal, 335-6, 341-4 

Eternity, 334-5, 337-8, 342, 346-7 

extension, 222 note, 335-6, 341-2, 

form or idea, 331-7, 340, 345, 348-9, 

geometry, Cartesian, and ancient 
philosophy, 352-3 

God of Aristotle, 207-8, 340-2, 369, 
372-3, 377 

Un, 374 

Idea, 331-40, 372-3 

and indivisibility of motion, 324-5, 

intelligible reality in, 344 

intelligibles of Plotinus, 374 

Néyos of Plotinus, 222 note 

matter in Aristotle’s philosophy, 334, 

and modern astronomy, 353-4, 354-5 

and modern geometry, 352-3 

and modern philosophy, 238-9, 241-2, 
244, 297, 364, 365, 369-71, 385, 
Eb og 

and modern science, 347-8, 355, 361 
2, 364, 377 


motion in, 324-5, 329-30 



necessity in, 345 
vohoews vono.s, 377 
non-being, 334, 345 
vods tounriKds, 340 
oscillation about being, sensible reality 
a8, 334-5 
Physics of Aristotle, 239-40 note, 
342 note, 348-50 
Plato, $1, 164, 202, 222 mote, 332-5, 
339-42, 345, 348-9, 367, 369 
Plotinus, 222, 332-3, 341-2, 343 nore, 
369, 372-4 
procession in Alexandrian philosophy, 
WuxX%}, 222 note, 370 
realism in, 244 
refraction of idea through matter or 
non-being, 334-5 
sectioning of becoming, 335-6 
sensible reality, 331-2, 334-5, 339, 
345-75 372-3 
o@ua, 370 
space and time, 335-6, 336-7 
Timaeus, 334 note 
time in ancient and in modern science, 
349-50, 355-6, 361-3 
time and space, 335-6, 336-7 
vision of God in Alexandrian philo- 
sophy, 340 
Zeno, 325, 331-2 
Ancient science and modern, 34.7-§0, 355- 
6, 361-4, 377 
Anima (De), of Aristotle, 340 note 
Animal kingdom, 13, 111, 125-7, 133, 
135-6, 138, 141-3, 145, 146, 189, 
Animals, 111-54, 177, 179, 191, 193-4, 
197, 198, 224, 226, 259, 260, 265, 
267, 268, 276-9, 281, 282, 286, 
308, 317-18 
deduction in, 223 
induction in, 226 
and man, 146-50, 193-4, 197, 198, 
224,277, 273, 281, 282 
and man in respect to brain, 193-4, 
194-5) 277-9 ; 
and man in respect to consciousness, 
146-50, 190, 193, 194, 197, 198, 
202, 224, 277-82 
and man in respect to instruments of 
action, 146-50, 158-9 
and man in respect to intelligence, 
145, 197, 198, 202, 224 
and plants, 111-46, 131-2, 150, 153, 
154, 177-9, 191-2, 267, 268, 308 
and plants in respect to activity of 
consciousness, 115, 117, 119, 126-7, 
135-6, 139, 141-3, 150, 151, 191-2, 
308 | 


and plants in respect to function, 124, 
127-8, 133 
and plants in respect to instinct, 175, 
and plants in respect to mobility, 115, 
116, 119, 136-7, 139, 142-3, 191-2 
and plants in respect to nature of con- 
sciousness, 141-2 
Antagonistic currents of the vital im- 
petus, 135-6, 142-3, 191, 195, 263, 
Anthophora, 153, 154 
Antinomies of Kant, 216, 217 
Antipathy. See Sympathy, 
Antithesis and thesis, 217 
Ants, 106, 140, 147, 166 
Ape’s brain and consciousness contrasted 
with man’s, 277 
Aphasia, 190 
Apidae, social instinct in the, 181 
Apogee of instinct in the hymenoptera 
and of intelligence in man, 184-5. 
See Evolutionary superiority 
Apogee of sensible object, in philosophy 
of Ideas, 362-3, 364, 369 
Approximateness of the knowledge of 
matter, 218 
Approximation, in matter, to the mathe- 


matical order, 230. See Order 

Archimedes, 352-3 

Aristotle. See Ancient Philosophy, 

Arrow, Flying, of Zeno, 324-5, 325-6, 

Art, 7, 30 note, 48, 95, 186-7. See 
Order in free activity or art 
Artemia Salina, transformations of, 77, 
Arthropods in evolution, 136-42, 149 
Articulate species, 140 
Articulations of matter relative to action, 
164, 388 
of motion, 327-8 
of real time, 350-51 
Artificial, how far scientific knowledge 
is, 207-8, 230-31 
instruments, 145, 146, 148 
Artist, in illustration of the creativeness 
of duration, 359-60 
Ascending cosmic movement, 12, 220, 
291, 391 
Ascent toward God, in Aristotle, 34.1 
Association of organisms, 274. See In- 
universal oscillation between associa- 
tion and individuation, 273, 275. 
See Societies 
Astronomy and deduction, 225 


and the inert order, 236-7 
modern, in reference to ancient science, 
Atmosphere of spatiality bathing intel- 
ligence, 216 
Atom, 253, 267, 269 
as an intellectual view of matter, 214, 
and interpenetration, 219 
Attack and defence in evolution, 138 
Attention, 2, 156-7, 162, 194-5, 221 
discontinuity of, 2 
in man and in lower animals, 194-5. 
See Tension and instinct, Tension 
as inverted extension, Tension of 
personality, Sympathetic apprecia- 
tion, etc., Relaxation and intellect 
Attraction and impulsion in Greek 
philosophy, 341, 342 
Attribute and subject, 155 
Automatic activity, 152 
as instrument of voluntary, 265 
order, 236-7, 244-6. See Negative 
movement, etc., Geometrical order 
Automatism, 133-4, 151, 152, 183-4, 
235-6, 275, 278, 279 

Background of instinct and intelligence, 
consciousness as, 196 
Backward-looking attitude of the in- 
tellect, 50, 250 
Baldwin, J. M., 28 note 
Ballast of intelligence, 160, 243, 252, 
Bastian, 224 note 
Bateson, 66 
Becoming, 172, 173, 250, 261, 262, 
288, 315-20, 324-5, 330-31, 3345 
356-7, 361-2, 365, 383 
in ancient philosophy, 330-31, 334 
in Descartes’s philosophy, 365 
in Eleatic philosophy, 330-31, 331-2 
in general, or abstract becoming, 320- 
21, 323-4 
instantaneous and static views of, 288, 
321-2, 322-3 
states of, falsely so called, 172, 261, 
288, 314-17, 324-5 
in the successors of Kant, 383. See 
Change, New, Duration, ‘Time, 
Views of reality 
Bees, 106, 147, 149, 153, 175, 176, 181 
Beethoven, 244 
Berthold, 36 note 
Bethe, 185-6 note 
Bifurcations of tendency, 57. See 
Divergent lines of evolution 
Biology, 13, 26, 27, 33-4, 46, 178, 183- 
4, 294-7, 375 

evolutionist, 177 
and philosophy, 46, 204-7 
and physico-chemistry, 27 
Blaringhem, go-g1 
Bodies, 165, 198, 199, 315-18, 38. 
See Matter as a relaxation of the 
unextended into the extended 
defined as bundles of qualities, 368 
Bois-Reymond (Du), 40 
Boltzmann, 258 
Bombines, social instincts in, 181 
Bouvier, 149 ote 
Bow, strain of, illustrating indivisibility 
of motion, 325-6 
Brain and consciousness, 5, 115, 116, 
189-90, 193-5, 224 note, 265, 266, 
275-9, 283, 285, 375, 376, 387. 
See Nervous System 
in man and lower animals, 193-4, 
194-5, 277-9 
Brandt, 70 note 
Breast-plate, in reference to animal 
mobility, 137, 138. See Carapace, 
Cellulose envelope 
Brown-Séquard, 84-6 
Bulb, medullary, in the development of 
the nervous system, 116, 266 
Busquet, 274 note 
Butschhi, 35 note 
Buttel-Reepen, 181 note 
Butterflies, in illustration of variation 
from evolutionary type, 77 

Caelo (De), of Aristotle, 339 note, 342 note 

Calcareous sheath, in reference to animal 
mobility, 137 

Calkins, 17 note 

Canal, in illustration of the relation of 
function and structure, 99 

Canalization, in illustration of the func- 
tion of animal organisms, gg, 100, 
116, 133, 285, 270 

Canvas, embroidering “something ” on 
the, of *‘ nothing,” 313 

Caprice, an attribute not of freedom, but 
of mechanism, 50 

Carapace, in reference to animal mobility, 
136-7, 137 

Carbohydrates, in reference to the func- 
tion of the animal organism, 127-8, 

Carbon, in reference to the function of 
organisms, 113, 119, 120, 123, 267, 

Carbonic acid, in reference to the function 
of organisms, 267, 269 

Carnot, 256, 259, 270 

Cartesian geometry, compared with 
ancient, 352-3 


Cartesianism, 365, 375 
Cartesians, 379. Sce Spinoza, Leibniz 
Carving, the, of matter by intellect, 164 
Categorical propositions, characteristic of 
instinctive knowledge, 157-8 
Categories, conceptual, x, xiv, 51, 155, 
156-7, 174, 200, 206-8, 219, 232-3, 
271-3, 280, 379, 382. See Concept 
deduction of, and genesis of the intel- 
lect, 207, 219, 379. See Genesis of 
matter and of the intellect 
innate, 155, 156-7 
misfit for the vital, x, xiv, §1, 174, 
206-10, 232-3, 271-3 
in reference to the adaptation to each 
other of the matter and form of 
knowledge, 382 
Cats, in illustration of the law of corre- 
lation, 70 
Causal relation in Aristotle, 342 
between consciousness and movement, 
in Greek philosophy, 341-4 
Causality, mechanical, a category which 
does not apply to life, x, xiv, 187 
in the philosophy of Ideas, 341-2 
Causation and adaptation, 107, 108 
final, involves mechanical, 47 
Cause and effect as mathematical func- 
tions of each other, 21, 22 
efficient, 247, 292, 342 
efficient, in Aristotle’s philosophy, 342 
efficient, in Leibniz’s philosophy, 373 
final, 42, 47, 247, 342 
final, in Aristotle’s philosophy, 342 
by impulsion, release and unwinding, 
mechanical, as containing effect, 15, 
246, 283 
in the vital order, 100, 173 
Cave, Plato’s allegory of the, 202 

Cell, as 25, 3475, 171, 175, 176, 274, 

as artificial construct, 171 

in the “colonial theory,” 274 
division, 17, 25, 34-5 
instinct in the, 175, 176 

in relation to the soul, 283 

Cellulose envelope in reference to vege- 
table immobility and torpor, 114, 
117, 137 } 

Cerebral activity and consciousness, 5, 
115, 116, 190-91, 193-5, 224 note, 
265, 266, 275, 279, 283, 285, 370, 
371, 375, 376, 387 

mechanism, 5, 265, 266, 276, 279, 

ia -spinal system, 

Nervous system 

130-31. See 


Certainty of induction, 227, 228 
Chance analogous to disorder, 246, 247. 
See Affection 
in evolution, gI-2, I10, 121, 133, 
79, 180, 265, 268, 269, 280, 281, 
344-5. See Indetermination 
Change, 1, 8, 18, 90-91, 113, 261, 291, 
310, 316-21, 324-5, 330-31, 3345 
_ 3445 346-7, 362-3, 364 
in ancient philosophy, 330-31, 334, 
344, 346-7, 362-3, 364 
in Eleatic philosophy, 331 
known only from within, 324-5 
Chaos, 245. See Disorder 
Character, moral, 5, 105 
Charrin, 85-6, 86 xote 
Chemistry, 31, 36-8, 58, 76, 78-9, 103, 
204-5, 238, 269, 275 
Child, intelligence in, 155-6 
adolescence of, in illustration of evo- 
lutionary becoming, 328-30 
Chipped stone, in paleontology, 146 
Chlorophyllian function, 113-15, 120, 
123, 259, 260, 267 
Choice, 116, 131-2, 151-3, 189, 190, 
266, 275-8, 291, 292, 387 
and consciousness, 116, 189, 275-8 
Chrysalis, 120 note 
Cinematograph, 322-3, 358-9 
Cinematographical character of ancient 
philosophy, 332-3 
of intellectual knowledge, 322, 323, 
329-35 343-4, 350-51, 367 
of language, 322-3, 329-31 
of modern science, 347-9, 
360-2, 365, 366, 367 
Circle of the given, broken by action, 
203, 261 
logical and physical, 292 
vicious, in intellectualist philosophy, 
204, 207-8, 336-7 
vicious, in the intuitional method is 
only apparent, 202, 203 
Circularity of God’s thought in Aris- 
totle’s philosophy, 342 
of each special evolution, 134-5 
Circulation, protoplasmic, imitated, 34-5 
in plants and animals, 114 
Circumstances in the determination of 
evolution, 107, 135-6, 140, 145, 
149, 158-9, 176, 177, 180, 203, 
204, 265,:270, 271 
in relation to special instincts, 145, 
177) 203, 204 
Classes of words corresponding to the 
three kinds of representation, 319- 
Clausius, 256 
Clearness characteristic of intellect, 169 



Cleft between the organized and the un- 
organized, 200, 201, 207-9 
Climbing plants, instincts of, 179 note 
Coincidence of matter with space as in 
Kant, 229,219, 257 
of mind with intellect as in Kant, §1, 
of qualities, 228 
of seeing and willing, 250 
of self with self, definition of the feel- 
ing of duration, 210-11 
Coleopter, instinct in, 153 
Colonial theory, 273, 274 
Colonies, microbial, 273 
Colour variation in lizards, 76, 78 
Coming and going of the mind between 
the without and the within gives 
rise to the idea of ‘ Nothing,” 
between nature and mind, the true 
method of philosophy, 252 
Common sense, 30, 161, 170, 225, 236- 
75 293, 365 
defined as continuous experience of 
the real, 225 
Comparison of ancient philosophy with 
modern, 238-9, 241-2, 244, 346-7, 
364, 365, 369-71, 374, 377 
Compenetration, 372-3. See Interpene- 
Complementarity of forms evolved, xii, 
xiii, 54, 106, 109, 119, 122-4, 142, 
143, 268, 269 
of instinct and intelligence, 1§3, 182. 
See Opposition of Instinct and In- 
of intuition and intellect, 362-4 
in the powers of life, §2, 102, 148-§0, 
186, 187-8, 194-5, 253, 260, 268, 
of science and metaphysics, 364 
Complexity of the order of mathematics, 
220-22, 229, 264 
Compound reflex, instinct as a, 183-4 
Concentration, intellect as, 202, 317 
of personality, 209-10, 213 
Concentric spheres in Aristotle’s philo- 
sophy, 346-7 ae 
Concept accessory to action, 1x 
analogy of, with the solid body, ix 
in animals, 197 
externality of, 169, 177, 184-7, 210- 
Il, 264, 322-3, 328, 330-31 
fringed about with intuition, 49 
and image distinguished, 169, 295 
impotent to grasp life, ix-xili, 52 
intellect the concept-making faculty, 
vi, 52 
misfit for the vital, 51 


representation of the act by which 
the intellect is fixed on things, 
synthesis of, in ancient philosophy, 
344-5, 376. See Categories, Ex- 
ternality, Frames, Image, Space, 
Conditions, external, in evolution, 135-6, 
140, 145, 149, 158-9, 176, 177, 
180, 203, 204, 265, 270, 271 
external, in determination of special 
instinct, 149, 158-9, 176, 177, 
Conduct, mechanism and finality in the 
evolution of, 50. See Freedom, 
Determination, Indetermination 
Confused plurality of life, 271 
Conjugation of Infusoria, 17 
Consciousness and action, ix, §, 151, 152, 
189-90, 219, 275 
consciousness as appendage to action, ix 
consciousness as arithmetical difference 
between possible and real activity, 
consciousness as auxiliary to action, 189 
consciousness as inadequacy of act to 
representation, 151 
consciousness as instrument of action, 
consciousness as interval between pos- 
sible and real action, 152, 189 
consciousness as light from zone of 
possible actions surrounding the real 
act, 189 
consciousness and locomotion, 276 
consciousness plugged up by action, 
151, 152. See Torpor, Sleep 
consciousness as sketch of action, 219 
intensity of, varies with ratio of 
possible to real action, 152 
Consciousness in animals, as distin- 
guished from the consciousness of 
plants, 136, 142-3, 151 
as distinguished from the conscious- 
ness of man, 146-50, 190, 193, 
194, 197, 198, 224, 277-82. See 
Torpor, Sleep 
characteristic of animals, torpor of 
plants, 115, 117, 119, 126-7, 135- 
6, 142-3, I9I, 192, 308 
as background of instinct and intel- 
ligence, 196 
and brain, 190, 276, 277, 283, 285, 
375, 376 
and choice, 116, 151, 152, 189, 275-8 
coextensive with universal life, 196, 
and creation, consciousness as demand 
for creation, 275 

te P - 
RM anes has. 

ee ae ee 


current of, penetrating matter, 191,284 

as deficiency of instinct, 1§2 

in dog and man, 190 

double form of, 189 

function of, 219 

as hesitation or choice, 151, 152 

imprisonment of, 190, 193-4, 278 

as invention and freedom, 278, 285 

in man as distinguished from, in lower 
forms of life, 190, 277, 278, 281, 

and matter, 189, 191, 191-2 

as motive principle of evolution, 191-2 

nullified, as distinguished from the 
absence of consciousness, 151 

and the organism, 284 

in plants, 137, 142-3, 150, 151 

as world principle, 250, 275 

Conservation of energy, 255, 256 
Construction, 146-9, 158-9, 161, 164, 

166, 191-2. See Manufacture, 

the characteristic work of intellect, 

as the method of Kant’s successors, 

Contingency, 102, 269, 282. See Acci- 
dent, Chance 
the, of order, 244, 248 
Continuation of vital process in instinct, 
$46, “847, (175, 376, 250;. See 
Variations, Vital process 
Continuity, 1, 27, 31, 39, 146, 147, 
162, 170-72, 272, 318-19, 323-4, 
328-9, 339) 343-4, 347-8, 366 
of becoming, 323-4, 328-9, 337-8 
of change, 343-4 
of evolution, 19, 20 
of extension, 162 
of germinative plasma, 27, 39 
of instinct with vital process, 146, 
147, 175-6, 259 
Of life, 1-12, 31,°171,.172, 272 
of living substance, 171 
of psychic life, 1, 3% 
of the real, 318-19, 347-8 
of sensible intuition with ultra-intel- 
lectual, 381 
of sensible universe, 366 
Conventionality of science, 218 
“Conversion” and “procession” in 
Alexandrian philosophy, 341 
Cook, Plato’s comparison of the, and 
the dialectician, 164 
Cope, 37 xote, 81-2, 117 
Correlation, law of, 70, 71 

Correspondence between mind and 
matter in Spencer, 388. See 


Cortical mechanism, 265, 266,276. See 
Cerebral mechanism 
Cosmogony and genesis of matter, 198. ° 
See Genesis of matter and of intel- 
lect, Spencer 
Cosmology, the, that follows from the 
philosophy of Ideas, 332, 346-7 
as reversed psychology, 220 
Counterweight, representation as, to 
action, 152 
Counting simultaneities, the measure- 
ment of time is, 356-7, 360-61 
Creation, xi,7, 11-13, 24, 30, 31, 48, 57, 
995. 105, 106, IOS; 210, 2.53, 127, 
135-7) 170, 172, 187, 210, 229, 
230, 235, 238, 243, 252-4, 275, 
285, 291, 358-9 
in Descartes’s philosophy, 365 
of intellect, 260-62 
of matter, 252, 253, 260, 261, 262. 
See Materiality the inversion of 
of present by past, 5, 21-4, 28, 176, 
the vital order as, 243 
Creative evolution, 7, 16, 22, 28, 31, 38, 
39, 69, 105, 110, 170, 172, 235-6, 
24.3, 251, 278, 283 
Creativeness of free action, 203, 261 
of invention, 263 
Creeping plants in illustration of vege- 
table mobility, 114 
Cricket victim of paralysing instinct of 
sphex, 182 
Criterion, quest of a, 56 ff. 
of evolutionary rank, 140, 279 
Criticism, Kantian, 216, 303 mote, 376, 
380, 382 
of knowledge, 204-5 
Cross-cuts through becoming by in- 
tellect, 330-31. See Views of reality 
through matter by perception, 218 
Cross-roads of vital tendency, 54, 55, 
575 116, 133 
Crustacea, 20, 117, 136-7, 137 
Crystal illustrating (by contrast) in- 
dividuation, 13 
Cuénot, 83-4 note 
Culminating points of evolutionary pro- 
gress, 53, 140-2. See Evolutionary 
Current, 27, 28, 54, 195,250, 252, 263, 
280, 284 
Currents, antagonistic, 263 
of existence, 195 
of life penetrating matter, 27, 28, 
280, 234 
vital, 27, 28, 54, 252, 280, 284 
of will penetrating matter, 250 


Curves, as symbol of life, 32, 95, 96, 
Cuts through becoming by the intellect, 
330-31. See Views of reality, Snap- 
shots in illustration, etc. 
through matter by perception, 218 
Cuvier, 131 note 

Dantec (Le), 19 note, 36 note 
Darwin 66-8, 70, 76, 114, 179 note 
Darwinism, 59, 89-99, go-91 
Dastre, 38 note 
Dead, the, is the object of intellect, 
Dead-locks in speculation, 163, 164, 
329, 330 
Death, 260 note, 286 
Declivity descended by matter, 220, 
259, 270, 358-9. See Descending 
Decomposing and recomposing powers 
characteristic of intellect, 165, 264 
Deduction, analogy between, related to 
moral sphere and tangent to curve, 
in animals, 224 
and astronomy, 226 
duration refractory to, 226 
geometry the ideal limit of, 226-38, 
inverse to positive spiritual effort, 
nature of, 223 
physics and, 225 
weakness of, in psychology and moral 
science, 224 
Defence and attack in evolution, 138 
Deficiency of will the negative condition 
of mathematical order and com- 
plexity, 221 
Definition in the realm of life, 14, 111, 
Degenerates, 140-2 
Dégénérescence sénile (La), by Metchni- 
koff, 19 note 
Degradation of energy, 255, 256, 259 
of the extra-spatial into the spatial, 
of the ideas into the sensible flux in 
ancient philosophy, 334-6, 341-2, 
345-7, 349, 362, 364, 372-3 
Degrees of being in the successors of 
Kant, 383 
Degrees of reality in Greek philosophy, 
341-2, 345 
Delage, 63 note, 85 note, 274 note 
Delamare, 85, 86 note 
Deliberation, 152 
De Manacéine, 130 note 

Deposit, instinct and intelligence as de- 
posits, emanations, issues, or 
aspects of life, x, xii, xiii, 52, 108, 
110, 143, 387 

De Saporta, 113 note 

rae 2955 353, 365, 366, 373, 376, 

becoming, 365 
creation, 366 
determinism, 365 
duration, 366 
freedom, 365, 366 
geometry, 352-3 
God, 365, 366 
image and idea or concept, 295 
indeterminism, 365 
mechanism, 365, 366 
motion, 366 
vacillation between abstract time and 
real duration, 365 
Descending movement of existence, 12, 
213, 214, 220, 285, 291, 391 
Design, motionless, of action the object 
of intellect, 163, 315-16, 318-19, 
Detension in the dream state, 213 
of intuition in intellect, 251 
Determination, 81-2, 136-7, 235-6, 259 
Determinism, 230, 278, 365, 369. See 
Mathematical order, Geometry 
in Descartes, 365 
Development, 140, 141-2, 149. See 
Progress, Evolution, Superiority 
Deviation from type, 87, 88-9 
Dialectic and intuition in philosophy, 
Dichotomy of the real in modern 
philosophy, 370 
Differentiation of parts in an organism, 
266, 274 
Dilemma of any systematic meta- 
physics, 206, 208, 243 
Diminution, derivation of becoming 
from being by, in ancient  phil- 
osophy, 334, 335, 339, 341-2, 
345-75 362-4, 372 
geometrical order as, or lower com- 
plication of the vital order, 249 
Dionaea illustrating certain animal 
characteristics in plants, 112-14 
Discontinuity of action, 162, 323-4 
of attention, 2 
of extension relative to action, 162, 

of knowledge, 323-4 
of living substance, 171 
a positive idea, 162 
Discontinuous the object of intellect, 

INDEX 401 

Discord in nature, 133, 134, 269, 281 
Disorder, 43, 109, 234-5, 238, 244- 
48, 289, 332-3. See Expectation, 
Order of mathematics, Orders of 
reality, two 
Disproportion between an invention and 
its consequences, 191, 192 
Dissociation as a cosmic principle op- 
posed to association, 274 
of tendencies, 57, 94, 141-2, 268, 
269, 271,272. See Divergent lines 
of evolution 
Distance, extension as the, between what 
is and what ought to be, 336-7 
345» 349 
Distinct multiplicity in the dream state, 
of the inert, 271 
Distinctness characteristic of the in- 
tellect, 169, 250, 263 
characteristic of perception, 239-40, 
as spatiality, 214, 219, 257, 263 
Divergent lines of evolution, xii, 57, 
58, 92-3, 102-6, 109, 112, 113, 
TES, 019, 199; 122, 325-6,: 136-7, 
139, 141-2, 149, 157, 158, 177, 
183, 191, 268, 269,280, 281. See 
Dissociation of tendencies, comple- 
mentarity, etc., Schisms in the 
primitive impulsion of life 
Diversity, sensible, 217, 232-3, 244, 
248, 249 
Divination, instinct as, 185-6. See 
Sympathy, etc. 
Divisibility of extension, 162, 171 
Division as function of intellect, 160, 
162, 171, 199 
of labour, 104, 116, 124, 166, 175, 

of labour in cells, 175 
Dog and man, consciousness in, 190 
Dogmatism of the ancient epistemology 
contrasted with the relativism of 
the modern, 243 
of Leibniz and Spinoza, 376, 377 
scepticism, and relativism, 207-8, 243 
Dogs and the law of correlation, 70 
Domestication of animals and heredity, 
Dominants of Reinke, 44 note 
Dorfmeister, 77 
Dreain,. 451, 190-91; 213; °221,. 271. 
See Interpenetration, Relaxation, 
Detension, Recollections 
as relaxation, 213 
Driesch, 45 note 
Drosera, 112-14 
Dufourt, 130 note 

Duhem, 255 ote 
Dunan, Ch., xv note 
Duration, xv note, 2, 4-6, 9-12, 16, 18, 
22, 23, 39, 41, 48, 54, 210, 212, 
217, 225, 228, 254, 287, 288, 291, 
314-15, 325-6, 334-5, 337 role, 342, 
346, 351,358, 361, 362, 365, 374, 
382, 384-5 
absoluteness of, 217 
and deduction, 225 
in Descartes’s philosophy, 365 
gnawing of, 5, 9, 4 
indivisibility of, 7, 325-6 
and induction, 228 
and the inert, 362-3 
in the philosophy of the Ideas, 334, 
337 note, 341-2, 345, 346-7 
rhythm of, 12, 134-5, 366 
See Creation, Evolution, Invention, 
Time, Unforeseeableness, Unique- 

Echinoderms in reference to animal 
mobility, 136, 138 
Efficient cause in conception of chance, 
Spinoza and, 283 
Effort in evolution, 179, 180 
eldos, 331-2 
Eimer, 58, 76, 78, 91 
Elaborateness of the mathematical order, 
220-22, 229, 264 
Eleatic philosophy, 325, 331-2 
Emanation, logical thought an, issue, 
aspect or deposit of life, x, xii, xiii, 
dvrordeitde “something” on the canvas 
of “ nothing,” 313 
Embroidery by descendants on the canvas 
handed down by ancestors, 24 
Embryo, 19, 20, 27, 28, 79, 85-6, 94, 
106, 175 
Embryogeny, comparative, and trans- 
formism, 26 
Embryonic life, 28, 175 
Empirical study of evolution the centre 
of the theory of knowledge and of 
the theory of life, 189 
theories of knowledge, 216 
Empty, thinking the full by means of the 
empty, 288-90 
End in Eleatic philosophy, 331-2 
of science is practical utility, 347-8 
Energy, 121-3, 125, 128-9, 255, 256, 
258, 259, 265-8, 269, 279, 276 
conservation of, 255, 256 
degradation of, 255, 256, 259 
solar, stored by plants, released by 
animals, 258, 267 


Enneadae of Plotinus, 222 zote 
Entelechy of Driesch, 44 note 
Entropy, 256 
Environment in evolution, 135, 140,145, 
149, 158, 176, 177, 180, 203, 204, 
265, 270, 271 
and special instincts, 145, 177, 203, 
Epiphenomenalism, 276 
Essence and accidents in Aristotle’s phil- 
osophy, 373 
or form in Eleatic philosophy, 331-2 
the meaning of, 318-19 
Essences (or forms), qualities and acts, 
the three kinds of representation, 
Eternity, 41, 314, 331, 334) 337, 342, 
346, 365, 366, 372, 374 
in the philosophy of Ideas, 334, 337, 
342, 346 
in Spinoza’s philosophy, 373 
Euglena, 122 
Evellin, 328 nore 
Eventual actions, 12, 162. See Possible 
Evolution, ix-xv, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 
28, 39, 49-58, 67, 72, 84 note, 
89-93, 102-10, 113, 119, 122, 133, 
134, 136, 138, 140, 141, 143, 145- 
7, 149, 161, 170, 175, 176, 178- 
81, 183, 184, 189, 191, 192, 195, 
196, 200, 203, 209, 219, 236, 243, 
255 note, 259, 261, 262, 264, 265, 
268, 278-80, 282, 288, 318, 328, 
364, 379, 380, 387 
accident in, 110, 178, 180, 183, 184, 

264, 265 

animal, a progress toward mobility, 

antagonistic tendencies in, 109, 119, 

automatic and determinate, is action 
being undone, 262 

blind alleys of, 136 

circularity of each special, 134 

complementarity of the divergent lines 
of, 102-6, 109, 122 

conceptually inexpressible, §2, 53, 55, 
§6, 133, 191, 288 

continuity of, 19, 20, 28, 39, 49, 288, 
318, 329, 364 

creative, 7,16, 22, 28, 31, 38, 39, 69, 
406,310, .176,:372,; 235,263, 251, 
278, 283 

culminating points of, §3, 140, 141, 
184, 195, 279, 280, 282 

development by, 140, 141, 149 

divergent lines of, xii, 56, 57, 92, 102- 
6, 109, 113, 183-4, 259 

and duration, 21, 24, 39, 48-9 
empirical study of, the centre of the 
theory of knowledge and of life, 189 
and environment, 107, 108, 135, 140, 
145, 149, 158, 176, 177, 179, 180, 
203, 204, 265, 270, 271 
of instinct, 179, 180, 184. See 
Divergent lines, etc., Culminating 
points, etc., Evolution and environ- 
of intellect, x-xli, 161, 196, 200, 203, 
209, 219, 379, 380. See Divergent 
lines, etc., Culminating points, etc., 
Genesis of matter and of intellect 
as invention, 364 
of man, 278, 280,282. See Culminat- 
ing points, etc. 
motive principle of, is consciousness, 
of species product of the vital impetus 
opposed by matter, 261, 268 
and transformism, 26 
unforeseeable, 50, 51, 55, 91, 236 
variation in, 25, $8, 67, 72, 77 mote, 
go, 138, 145, 176, 178, 181, 278 
Evolutionary, qualitative, and extensive 
Motion, 319, 320, 328, 329 
superiority, 140-42, 183, 184. See 
Success, Criterion of evolutionary 
rank, Culminating points, etc. 
Evolutionism, x-xii, xiv, 82, 89, 385 
Exhaustion of the mutability of the 
universe, 356-7 
Existence, logical, as contrasted with 
psychical and physical, 292, 382 
of matter tends toward instantaneity, 
of self means change, 1 ff, 
superaddition of, upon nothingness, 

Expectation, 226-8, 233, 234, 238, 245, 
248, 289, 297, 308 
in conception of disorder, 233, 234, 
238, 245, 247, 248, 289 
in conception of void or naught, 297, 
Experience, 145, 155, 187, 208, 2165, 
242, 339, 375, 380, 384, 389 
Explosion, illustrating cause by release, 
Explosive character of animal energy, 
122, 124, 126,256 
of organization, 97 
Explosives, manufacture of, by plants and 
use by animals, 259, 267 
Extension, 157, ° 162, 170, 213; 2S; 
219, 222, 235, 249, 258, 335-75 
341, 345, 371, 372 
continuity of, 162 


SST a ee 


discontinuity of, relative to action, 
as the distance between what is and 
what ought to be, 335 
divisibility of, 162, 171 
_the most general property of matter, 
162, 263, 264 
the inverse movement to tension, 249, 
of knowledge, 157-8 
in Leibniz’s philosophy, 371, 372 
of matter in space, 215, 222 
in the philosophy of Ideas, 335-6, 
341-2, 345 
and relaxation, 213, 219, 221, 222, 
224,230,236, 258 
in Spinoza’s philosophy, 371 
in the Transcendental Aesthetic, 215 
unity of, 167 
as weakening of the essence of being, 
in Plotinus, 222 note 
Extensive, evolutionary and qualitative 
motion, 319, 320, 328, 329 
External conditions in evolution, 135, 
140, 145, 149, 158-9, 176, 177, 
180, 203, 204, 265, 270, 271 
finality, 43 
“Externality of concepts, 169, 177, 184, 
186, 210, 264, 322, 328-31 
the most general property of matter, 
162, 263, 264 
Externalized action in distinction from in- 
ternalized, 154,174. See Somnam- 
bulism, etc., Automatic activity, etc. 
Eye of mollusc and vertebrate compared, 

63, 79, 81, 88, 91, 92 

Fabre, 182 xote 
Fabrication. See Construction 
Fallacies, two fundamental, 287, 288 
Fallacy of thinking being by not-being, 
291, 292, 299, 314-15 
of thinking the full by the empty, 
of thinking motion by the motionless, 
287, 288, 314-15, 324-5, 326-31 
Fallibility of instinct, 182-3 
Falling back of matter upon conscious- 
ness, 278 
bodies, comparison of Aristotle and 
Galileo, 239, 349-50, 352-3 
weight, figure of material world, 258, 
Familiar, the, is the object of intellect, 
F722, 173; 210, 255 
Faraday, 214 
Fasting, in reference to primacy of ner- 
vous system over the other physio- 
logical systems, 130-31 


Fauna, menace of torpor in primitive, 
Feeling in the conception of chance, 
and instinct, 151, 184-5 
Fencing-master, illustrating hereditary 
transmission, 84 
Ferments, certain characteristics of, 112 
Fertilisation of orchids by insects, by 
Darwin, 179 note 
Fichte’s conception of the intellect, 200, 
201, 378 
Filings, iron, in illustration of the rela- 
tion of structure to function, 99, 
Film, cinematographic, figure of abstract 
motion, 321-2 
Final cause, 42, 47, 247, 342 
conception of, involves conception of 
mechanical cause, 47 
God as, in Aristotle, 341-2 
Finalism, 41-55, 61, 78, 93-102, 107 
_ 309.1334 
Finality, 43, 173, 187-8, 194-5, 235-6, 
236-7, 280 
external and internal, 43 
misfit for the vital, 187-8, 235-6, 
236-7, 280 
and the unforeseeableness of life, 173, 
Fischel, 80 note 
Fish in illustration of animal tendency 
to mobility, 136, 138 
Fixation of nutritive elements, 113-15, 
120, 123, 259, 260, 267 
Fixity, 114-19, 124, 125, 136, 137, 163. 
See Torpor 
apparent or relative, 163 
cellulose envelope and the, of plants, 
114, 117, 137 
of extension, 163 
of plants, 114-19, 124, 125, 136-7 
of torpid animals, 137 
Flint hatchets and human intelligence, 

Fluidity of life, 160-61, 174, 204 
of matter as a whole, 196, 389 
Flux of material bodies, 279 
of reality, 263, 264, 355, 356, 361, 
Flying arrow of Zeno, 324, 325, 326 
Focalization of personality, 212 
Food, 142-15, 120, 423, 120, 127,259, 
260, 267 
Foraminifera, failure 
evolve, 107 
Force, 133-4, 149, 156, 158, 184, 259, 
268, 358-9 
life a, inverse to matter, 259 

of certain, to 


limitedness of vital force, 133, 134, 
149, 156, 157, 171 
time as, 358-9 
Forel, 185 nore 
Foreseeing, 9, 28, 30, 31, 39, 48, 50, 
102. See Unforeseeableness 
Form, xii, §4, 106, 109, 119, 122-4, 135, 
142, 143, 156-60, 164, 165, 168, 
172, 205-7, 234-5, 252, 263, 268, 
269, 318-19, 320, 331, 334, 336, 
340, 348, 378, 380, 381, 382 
complementarity of forms evolved, 
Xil, 54, 106, 109, 119, 122-4, 142, 
143, 268, 269 
expansion of the forms of conscious- 
ness, Xill, XiV 
(or essences), qualities and acts the 
three kinds of representation, 319- 

God as pure form in Aristotle, 207, 
or idea in ancient philosophy, 334, 
335, 348-9 

of intelligence, xv, 51, 155, 156, 174, 
200, 206, 207, 209, 219, 232, 271- 
3, 280, 379, 382. See Concept 
and matter in creation, 252, 263 
and matter in knowl ledge, 205, 382 
a snapshot view of transition, 318 
Formal knowledge, 160 
logic, 308 
Forms of sensibility, 382 
Fossil species, 107 
Foster, 131 note 
Fox in illustration of animal intelligence, 
eae at the understanding, 49, 51, 
157-60, 183, 187, 207-10, 231-2, 
236-7, 272, 285, 330, 379, 384 
fit the inert, 208, 231 
inadequate to reality entire, 384 
misfit for the vital, x, xiv, 49, 51, 183, 
187, 207-10, 236, 272, 330-31 
product of life, 379 
transform freedom into necessity, 
utility of, lies in their unlimited appli- 
cation, 157-8, 160 
Freedom, 12, 50, 133, 136, 172, 173; 
IO; 214, 21G, 230, 235, 243,249, 
250, 252, 261, 262, 273-36, 283, 
285, 292, 293, 317, 358-60, 365, 
the absolute as freely acting, 293 
affirmed by consciousness, 283 
animal characteristic rather than vege- 
table, 136-7 
caprice attribute not of, but of mechan- 
ism, 50 

coextensiveness of consciousness with, 

117, 118, 213, 278, 285 
of creation and life, 261, 268, 269 
creativeness of, 235, 2§2, 261 
in Descartes’s philosophy, 365, 366 
as efficient causality, 292 
inversion of necessity, 249 
and liberation of consciousness, 279, 
280. See Imprisonment of con- 
and novelty, 12, 172, 173, 210, 230, 
243, 252, 262, 285, 358-61 
order in, 235-6 
property of every organism, 136-7 
relaxation of, into necessity, 230 
tendency of, to self-negation in habit, 
tension of, 210, 212, 213, 219, 235s 
250, 252, 317-18 
transformed by the understanding into 
necessity, 285 
See Spontancity 
Fringe of intelligence around instinct, 
of intuition around intellect, xiii, 49 
of possible action around real action, 
189, 278 
Froth, alveolar, in imitation of organic 
phenomena, 35-6 
Full, fallacy of thinking the, by the 
empty, 288-91 
Function, ix, 3, 5, 46, 49, 50, 93-6, 99, 
100, 112-16, 119, 120, 123, 126, 
127, 133, 139, 147, 145, 153, 160, 
161, 162, 166, 169, 171, 173, 177, 
182-5, 196-202, 210, 218, 2109, 
246, 250, 259, 260, 264, 267-70, 
276, 277, 285, 288, 314, 323, 366, 
378, 391 
accumulation of energy the function 
of vegetable organisms, 267, 269 
action the, of intellect, ix, 13, 46, 49, 
99, 169, 171, 196-8, 218, 264, 288, 


action the, of nervous system, 276, 
badd . 

alimentation, 112, 113, 126, 127, 259, 

of animals is canalization of energy, 
99, 116, 133, 269, 270 

carbon and the, of organisms, 113,119, 
120,123; 267,:209 

chlorophyllian, 113-15, 120, 123, 
2£9,. 260, 207 

concept-making the, of intellect, x, 


Payee ocr) sketching move. 
ments, 219 

construction the, of intellect, 113 


a ee Le 

—_——— —_—- 


ee. es ee Fe ae eee 


a > ee 



illumination of action, of perception, 
5, 218, 323-4 

of intelligence: action, ix, 13, 46, 49, 
99, 169, 171, 196-8, 218, 264, 
288, 323-4 

-of intelligence: concept-making, x, 52 

of intelligence: construction, 168, 
172, IgI-2 

of intelligence: division, 160, 162, 
171, 199 

of intelligence: illumination of action 
by perception, 5, 218, 314 

of intelligence: repetition, 173, 210, 

of intelligence : retrospection, 50, 250 

of intelligence : connecting same with 
same, 210, 246, 285 

of intelligence: scanning the rhythm 
of the universe, 366 

of intelligence: tactualizing all per- 
ception, 177 

of intelligence: unification, 160, 162, 

of the nervous system: action, 276, 

and organ, 93-6, 99, 100, 139, 147, 
148, 166. See Function and 

and organ, in arthropods, vertebrates 
and man, 139 

of the organism, 99, 112-16, 119, 
$20; 023; 126, 1275. 194): 182-4, 
259, 260, 267-70 

of the organism, alimentation, 112,113, 
$26,127,350; 267 

of the organism, animal: canalization 
of energy, 99, 116, 133, 269, 270 

of the organism, carbon in, 113, 119, 
£20,424, 267, 269 

of the organism,  chlorophyllian 
function, 113-15, 120, 123, 259, 
260, 267 

of the organism, primary functions of 
life: storage and expenditure of 
energy, 267-70 

of the organism, vegetable : accumula- 
tion of energy, 267, 269 

of philosophy: adoption of the evolu- 
tionary movement of life and con- 
sciousness, 391 

of science, 177, 366 

sketching movements the, of con- 
sciousness, 219 

and structure, 58, 65, 70, 73, 78, 79, 
81, 91, 93-6, 99, 100, 102, 125, 
139, 147, 148, 166, 171, 263, 265, 

tactualizing all perception the, of 
science, 177 


of vegetable organism: accumulation 
of energy, 267, 269 
Functions of life, the two: storage and 
expenditure of energy, 267-70 

Galileo, homogeneity of time in, 350 
his influence on metaphysics, 22, 241 
his influence on modern science, 352, 

extension of Galileo’s physics, 377, 

his theory of the fall of bodies compared 
with Aristotle’s, 240, 349, 350, 
Ganoid breastplate of ancient fishes, in 
reference to animal mobility, 137, 
Gaudry, 137 note 
Genera, relation of, to individuals, 239 
relation of, to laws, 238, 239, 348 
potential, 239-40 
and signs, 167 
Generality, ambiguity of the idea of, 
in philosophy, 238, 242-4 
Generalization dependent on repetition, 
243, 244 
distinguished from 
sign, 167 
in the vital and mathematical orders, 
237, 238, 243 
Generic, type of the: similarity of 
structure between generating and 
generated, 236, 237 
Genesis, xiv, xv, 161, 196-210, 219, 379, 
of intellect, xiv, xv, 161, 196, 197, 
200, 203, 204, 206-7, 219, 279, 
of knowledge, 201 
of matter, xiv, xv, 161, 196, 198, 200, 
203, 210, 219, 380 
Genius and the willed order, 236, 252 
Genus. See Genera 
Geometrical, the, is the object of the in- 
tellect, 201 
Geometrical order as a diminution or 
lower complication of the vital, 235, 
238, 249, 348. See Genera, Rela- 
tion of, to laws 
mutual contingency of, and vital order, 
See Mathematical order 
space, relation of, to the spatiality of 
things, 214 
Geometrism, the latent, of intellect, 205, 
Geometry, fitness of, to matter, 11 
goal of intellectual operations, 222, 
225, 230 

transference of 


ideal limit of induction and deduction, 
226-30, 382. See Space, Descend- 
ing movement of existence 
modern, compared with ancient, 38, 
169, 352-3 
natural, 205, 222-4 
perception impregnated with, 216, 
reasoning in, contrasted with reason- 
ing concerning life, 7, 8 
scientific, 170, 223 
Germ, accidental predisposition of, in 
Neo-Darwinism, 178, 179, 180 
Germ-plasm, continuity of, 28, 39, 83-8 
Giard, 88 
Glucogen in organic function, 128-9 
Glucose in organic function, 128, 130 
God, as activity, 262 
of Aristotle, 207, 340, 343, 369, 373; 
ascent toward, in Aristotle’s  plil- 
osophy, 340-41 
circularity of God’s thought, in 
Aristotle’s philosophy, 342, 343 
in Descartes’s philosophy, 365, 366 
as efficient cause in Aristotle’s phil- 
osophy, 342 
as hypostasis of the unity of nature, 
207, 349, 377 
in Leibniz’s philosophy, 371, 372, 
as eternal matter, 207-8 
as pure form, 207-8, 340 
in Spinoza’s philosophy, 370, 377 
Greek philosophy. See Ancient phil- 
Green parts of plants, 113-15, 120, 123, 
259, 260, 267 
Growing old, 16 
Growth, creation is, 254, 291 
and novelty, 243 
of the powers of life, 139, 141-2 
reality is, 252 
of the universe, 362, 364 
Guérin, P., 63 note 
Guinea-pig, in illustration of hereditary 
transmission, 84, 85 

Habit and consciousness annulled, 151 

form of knowledge a habit or bent of 
attention, 156 

and heredity, 83, 88, 178, 179, 182. 
See Acquired characters, inheri- 
tance of 

instinct as an intelligent, 183-4 

and invention in animals, 278 

and invention in man, 279 

tendency of freedom to self-negation 

in, 133-4 

Harmony between instinct and life, and 
between intelligence and the inert, 
196, 205, 209 

of the organic world is complemen- 
tarity due to a common original 
impulse, §3, 54, 108, 109, 122, 

pre-established, 217, 218 

in radical finalism, 133-4. See Discord 

Hartog, 63 note 

Hatchets, ancient flint, and human in- 
tellect, 144 

Heliocentric radius-vector in Kepler’s 
laws, 352-3 

Hereditary transmission, 80-88, 92, 178, 
179, 182, 238, 243 

domestication of animals and, 84-5 
habit and, 83, 88, 178, 179, 182 

Hesitation or choice, consciousness as, 
cet, 15% 

Heteroblastia and identical structures on 
divergent lines of evolution, 78 

Heymons, 77 note 

History as creative evolution, 7, 16, 22, 
28, 33,38, 39, 66, 16§, 110, 272, 
278, 283 

of philosophy, 251 

Hive as an organism, 175 

Homo faber, designation of human 
species, 146 

Homogeneity of space, 165, 224 

the sphere of intellect, 172 
of time in Galileo, 350 

Horse-fly illustrating the object of ine 
stinct, 158 

Houssay, 115 note 

Human and animal attention, 194 

and animal brain, 193, 194, 277-9 

and animal consciousness, 146-50, 
190, 193, 194, 197, 198, 202, 224, 

and animal instruments of action, 
146-50, 158 

and animal intelligence, 145, 197, 
198, 202, 224 

and animal invention, relation of, to 
habit, 278, 279 

intellect and language, 166 

intellect and manufacture, 144, 145 

Humanity in evolution, 141, 144-6, 150, 
154, 166, 191, 194, 195, 278-86, 
See Culminating points, ete. 

goal of evolution, 280, 281 

Huxley, 40 

Hydra and individuality, 14 

try of Aristotle, 373 

Hymenoptera, the culmination of arthro- 
pod and instinctive evolution, 140, 

141, 184-5 


as entomologists, 153, 182-3 
organization and instinct in, 147 
paralysing instinct of, 153, 180, 184-5 
social instincts of, 106 
Hypostasis of the unity of nature, God 
as, 206-8, 34°, 377 
Hypothetical propositions characteristic 
of intellectual knowledge, 157-8 

Idea or form in ancient philosophy, 51, 
331, 334, 336, 348 
in ancient philosophy, eldos, 331-2 
in ancient philosophy, Platonic, 51 
and image in Descartes, 295 
Idealism, 244 
Idealists and realists alike assume the 
possibility of an absence of order, 
232, 244 
Identical structures in divergent lines of 
evolution, 58, 65, 66, 73, 78-81, 
QI, 125 
Illumination of action the function of 
perception, 5, 218, 323-4 
Image and idea in Descartes, 295 
distinguished from concept, 169, 295 
Imitation of being in Greek philosophy, 
3425 345 
of instinct by science, 178, 183-4 
of life in intellectual representation, 4, 
34-5, 94, 106, 186, 220, 221, 225, 
238, 273, 361, 386 
of life by the unorganized, 35, 37, 
of Tare by intelligence, 322, 324, 
329, 330, 347. See Imitation of 
the real, etc. 
of the physical order by the vital, 243 
of the real by intelligence, 272, 285, 
Immobility of extension, 163 
and plants, 114-19, 124, 125, 136, 
of chavs and torpid animals, 137 
relative and apparent ; mobility real, 
Impatience, duration as, 10, 358-9 
Impelling cause, 77 
Impetus, vital, divergence of, 27, 28, 54- 
o,. 803-50, 130, 125,: 193, 238; 
14%-3, 271, 272; 280, 284, 285 
vital, limitedness of, 133, 149, 156, 
157, 268 
vital, loaded with matter, 252 
vital, as necessity for creation, 265, 
vital, transmission of, through organ- 
isms, 27, 28, 84, 90, 92, 93, 243, 
244, 263, 264 
vital, See Impulse of life 


Implement, the animal, is natural: the 
human, artificial, 146-50 
artificial, 144-8, 158-9 
constructing, function of intelligence, 

168, 191 

life known to intelligence only as, 

matter known to intelligence only as, 
170, 209 

natural, 148, 152, 158 
organized, 148, 152, 158 
unorganized, 144-6, 148, 158-9 
Implicit knowledge, 154 
Impotence of intellect and perception to 
grasp life, 186-7 
Imprisonment of consciousness, 190-93, 
Impulse of life, divergence of, 27, 28, 
54-8, 102-10, 116, 125, 133, 138, 
141-3, 271, 272, 280, 284, 285 
limitedness of, 133, 134, 149, 156, 
157, 268 
loaded with matter, 252 
tendency to mobility, 138, 139 
as necessity for creation, 265, 275 
negates itself, 260, 261 
prolonged in evolution, 259 
prolonged in our will, 252 
transmitted through generations of 
organisms, 27, 28, 84, 90, 92, 93, 
243, 244 
unity of, 213, 263, 285 
Impulsion and _ attraction 
philosophy, 341-2 
release and unwinding, the three kinds 
of cause, 77 
given to mind by matter, 213 
Inadequacy of act to representation, 
consciousness as, ISI 
Inadequate and adequate in Spinoza, 

in’ Greek 

Inanition, illustrating primacy of ner- 
vous system, 130 note 
Incoherence, 249. See Absence of order, 
Chance, Chaos 
in nature, 110 
Incommensurability of free act with 
conceptual idea, 50, 212 
of instinct and intelligence, 177, 184 
Incompatibility of developed tendencies, 
109, 177 : 
Independent variable, time as, 21, 354 
Indetermination, 91, 121, 133, 265, 
269, 344. See Accident in evolution 
Indeterminism in Descartes, 365 
Individual, viewed by intelligence as 
aggregate of molecules and of facts, 
and division of labour, 147 


in evolutionist biology, 178, 180, 
260 note 
and genus, 238-41 
mind in philosophy, 201 
aesthetic intuition only attains the, 
186, 187 
and society, 274, 279 
transmits the vital impetus, 263, 273, 
Individuality never absolute, x, 13, 14, 
16, 19, 45, 274 
and age, 16-24, 28, 45 
corporeal, physics tends to deny, 198, 
199, 219. See Interpenetration of 
atoms, Obliteration of objects, Soli- 
darity of the parts of matter 
and generality, 238-41 
the many and the one in the idea of, 
%, 292 
as plan of possible influence, 12 
Individuation never absolute, x, 13-17, 
45, 274 
as a cosmic principle in contrast with 
association, 273-4 
property of life, 13-15 
partly the work of matter, 272, 273, 
Indivisibility of action, 99, 100 
of duration, 6, 325 
of invention, 173 
of life, 238, 285. See Unity of life 
of motion, 324-8 
Induction in animals, 226 
certainty of, approached as_ factors 
approach pure magnitudes, 234, 235 
and duration, 228 
and expectation, 226-8 
geometry the ideal limit of, 226-30, 
382. See Space, Geometry, Reason- 
ing, ‘‘ Descending” movement of 
matter, etc. 
and magnitude, 227, 228 
repetition the characteristic function 
of intellect, 173, 210, 216-28 
and space, 228. See Space as the 
ideal limit, etc. 
See Systems of matter 
Industry, ix, 170, 171, 173 
Inert matter and action, 102, 143, 149, 
164, 197, 209, 238, 387 
in Aristotle, 333-4, 345, 374 
bodies, 3; 6, £2,.13; 25, 34, 225.466, 
167, 184, 196, 198, 199, 215, 225, 
227, 241, 254, 255, 315, 317, 360, 
361, 366-8, 381 
Creation of. See Inert matter the 
inversion of life 
flux of, 196, 279, 288, 390 
and form, 156, 157, 165, 252, 263 

genesis of, 198 
homogeneity of, 165 
imitation of living matter by, 35, 37 
imitation of physical order by vital, 
instantaneity of, ro, 212 
and intellect, ix, 32, 148, 168-70, 173, 
174, 177, 185, 189, 191, 196, 197, 
205, 206, 208, 209, 217-24, 228- 
$1, 236, 275, 255, 327, 30% 
the inversion or interruption of life, 
99, 100, 103, 104, 135-6, 161, 
187,196, 200, 20%, 207, 268, 
212, 214, 220, 22%, 228-34, 245, 
248, 249, 252, 253, 258-63, 265, 
263,270, 272, 273, 275). 279s 201s 
287, 291, 337; 358-9, 362. See 
Order inherent in 
knowledge of, approximate but not 
relative, 218 
the metaphysics and the physics of, 
as necessity, 265, 278 
the order inherent in, 43, 109, 
161, 212, 219-24, 228, 239-40, 
243-9, 258, 264, 277, 289, 337-8. 
See Inversion of life 
penetration of, by life, 27, 28, 54, 
189, 191, 250, 252, 280, 284, 285 
and perception, 13, 218, 239 
and the psychical, 212, 213, 217, 283, 
284, 370, 388 
solidarity of the parts of, 198, 214, 
219, 254, 271-3, 284, 285, 372 
and space, 11, 162, 199, 215-22, 230, 
257) 263, 264, 271 
in Spencer’s philosophy, 386 
Inertia, 186, 235 
Infant, intelligence in, 154, 155 
Inference a _ beginning of invention, 
Inferiority in evolutionary rank, 183-4 
Influence, possible, 12, 199 
Infusoria, conjugation of, 17 
development of the eye from its stage 
in, 64, 76, 81-2, 88-9 
and individuation, 274 
and mechanical explanations, 36, 37 
vegetable function in, 122 
Inheritance of acquired characters. See 
Hereditary transmission 
Innate knowledge, 154, 158-9 
Innateness of the categories, 155, 156-7 
Inorganic matter. See Inert matter 
Insectivorous plants, 112-14 
Insects, 20, 106, 113, .133,. 138, 140, 
141, 147-9, 153, 154, 166, 176, 
178, 180-84, 199 

oe — 

eS «_  "-+ ~*~ 

INDEX 409 

apogee of instinct in hymenoptera, 
140, 184-5 
consciousness and instinct, 153, 176, 
continuity of instinct with organiza- 
__ tion, 147, 153 
fallibility of instinct in, 182-3 
instinct in general in, 178, 184-5 
language of ants, 166 
object of instinct in, 153, 154 
paralysing instinct in, 153, 181, 182-3 
social instinct in, 106, 166, 181 
special instincts as variations on a 
theme, 176. See Arthropods in 
Insensible variation, 66, 72 
Inspiration of a poem an undivided in- 
tuitive act, contrasted with its in- 
tellectual imitation in words, 220, 
221, 273, 361-2, See Sympathy 
Instantaneity of the intellectual view, 
32 75, 89, 94, 210, 212-13, 218, 
228, 262,-272, 288, 317-23; 328, 
331, 350-51, 361, 371, 372 
Instinct and action on inert matter, 143, 
in animals as distinguished from 
plants, 179 
in cells, 175 
and consciousness, 150-53, 175, 176, 
182, 184, 185, 196 
culmination of, in evolution, 140, 
184-5. See Arthropods in evolu- 
tion, Evolutionary superiority 
fallibility of, 182-3 
in insects in general, 178, 184-5 
and intelligence, xill, 54, 106, 109, 
119, 122-4, 139-44, 148-50, 153, 
158, 160, 167, 177-9, 182-9, 194-5, 
106, 206,951, 260, 268, 269,'273, 
281, 282, 362, 364, 387 
and intuition, 187, 188-9, 191 
object of, 153-60, 174, 177, 181-9, 
196, 199, 205, 246, 268 
and organization, 25, 145-7, 153, 
$7G=7, 151, 182, 183, 186, 203, 
204, 278 
paralysing, in certain hymenoptera, 
147, 153, 181, 184-5 
in plants, 179, 180 
social, of insects, 106, 166, 181 
Instinctive knowledge, 157, 176, 177, 
learning, 203 
metaphysics, 202, 283, 284, 293 
Instrument, action as, of consciousness, 
Sieur is natural ; human artificial, 

automatic activity as instrument of 
voluntary, 265 

consciousness as, of action, 190 

intelligence: the function of intelli- 
gence is to construct instruments, 
168, 191-2 

intelligence transforms life into an, 

intelligence transforms matter into 
an, 170, 209 

intelligence: the instruments of in- 
telligence are artificial, ix, 144-6, 
148, 158-9 

natural or organized instruments of 
instinct, 148, 152, 158-9 

Intellect and action, ix, 13, 30, 46-50, 

98, 143, 149, 160-165, 171, 189, 
196, 197, 203, 206, 208, 209, 231, 
232, 238-41, 264, 285, 288, 313-15, 
318, 319, 323, 347, 367 

in animals, 197 

Fichte’s conception of the, 200, 201, 


function of the, 5, 12, 13, 47-52, 97, 
98, 133, 144-52, 157-68, 171-3, 
177, 183, 186, 191, 197-210, 215- 
20, 226-31, 242, 246, 250, 254, 
255, 259, 261, 264, 285, 306, 314, 
315, 347, 355, 356, 360, 361, 367, 
368, 3775 378 | 

genesis of the, xii-xv, 52, 108, 110, 
133, 161,196, 197, 200, 203, 204, 
206, 209, 219, 260-62, 379, 380, 
387 . e. @ 

as inversion of intuition, 7, 8, 12, 49, 
525 54, 91, 93-6, 99, 100, 109, 
119, 122-4, 136, 139, 140, 142, 
143, 147-50, 153, 166, 170, 177- 
89, 191, 194, 195, 196, 200-215, 
219-24, 228-30, 233, 235, 238, 
243-5, 248, 249, 251, 258-65, 
268-73, 278, 281-7, 291, 293, 330, 
348, 358, 361-4, 382, 391 

and language, 4, 155, 166-8, 272, 270, 
308, 319, 322, 329, 330, 344 

and matter, Introd., 11, 12, 51, 98, 
142, 143, 148, 149, 160-62, 164, 
169, 170, 174, 177, 185, 189, 
IQ1, 192, 195-7, 200, 203, 205, 
206, 208, 209, 212-15, 217-21, 
225, 227, 230-32, 236, 238-43, 
253-5, 258, 259, 261-5, 267, 
269-73, 278, 284, 285, 287, 288, 
291, 313-14, 323, 3372 339 347» 
358, 360-62, 366-8, 375, 379-81, 
389, 391 

mechanism of the, Introd. 4, 32, 
34, 49-52, 75, 89, 94, 106, 145, 
158-63, 165, 169, 170, 173, 174, 


177, 175, 483, 184; 286, 183: 
197, 198, 201-3, 205-31, 236-53, 
S57, 200, 262-4, 267, 260, 29%, 
272, 280, 285, 288, 292, 308, 317- 
39, 343, 347, 348, 35°, 355, 357, 
358, 360-67, 371, 379, 382, 384, 
386, 388 

object of the, Introd. 7, 8, 11, 
18, 21, 22, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39, 
49-52, 55, 75, 78, 80, 93-7, 995 
101, 107, 108, 147, 148, 157, 160- 
74, 177, 183, 185-9, 190, 191, 
197, 201, 204-23, 225, 228 - 32, 
235, 236, 238, 241-3, 246, 250, 
251, 253, 258, 262-4, 267, 269, 
271-3, 275, 278, 280, 284, 285, 
288, 289, 314-31, 336-40, 344, 
346, 347, 350-56, 361, 364-9, 371, 
372-7, 379-81, 384, 376, 390, 391 

and perception, 5, 12, 13, 99, 170, 
177, 186, 198, 199, 216, 218, 230, 
241, 243, 251, 262-4, 288, 316, 
317, 323, 380 

and rhythm, 316, 317, 323, 347, 
356, 366 

and science, 9-13, 33, 98, 160, 161, 
166, 167, 169, 171, 177, 183-6, 
197, 204-9, 213, 215, 218-20, 
230-32, 233, 238, 241, 254, 264, 
285, 288, 313-14, 323, 339) 349, 
347s 352-4, 364, 366-8, 374, 376, 
377, 380, 383, 391 

and space, 11, 162, 165, 169-71, 184, 
186, 199, 213-15, 219-24, 227, 
230, 235, 257, 258, 263, 264, 271, 
272, 382 

and time, 4, 9, 18, 19, 21-3, 38, 41, 
48, 49, 54, 172, 316, 317, 350, 
354-6, 360 

possibility of transcending the, 
Xil, Xill, §1, 160, 187, 204, 209- 
II, 217, 219, 280, 381. See 
Philosophy of Ideas, Intelligence 

Intellectualism, hesitation of Descartes 
between, and intuitionism, 365 
Intelligence and action, 144-8, 158, 

163, 170, I71, 191, 199, 209, 

animal, 145, 197, 198, 224 

categories of, x, 51, 206-7 

of the child, 155-6 

and consciousness, 196 

culmination of, 140, 147, 184-5. 
See Superiority 

genesis of, 143, 187-8, 387 

and the individual, 264 

and instinct, 115, 142, 143, 149, 150, 
177-9, 183-6, 189, 196, 208, 221, 
251, 273, 201 

in Kant’s philosophy, 377-8 
and laws, 242-3 
limitations of, 160 
and matter, 160, 168, 170, 185, 189, 
191, 196, 199, 205-9, 243, 252, 
263, 390, 391 
mechanism of, 160, 161, 173, 
and motion, 161, 168, 289, 320-24, 
329, 33% 347 
object of, 153-64, 170, 171, 185, 
189, 263 
practical nature of, Introd., 144-6, 
148, 158-9, 261, 288, 322, 323, 
and reality, Introd., 170, 187, 250, 
264, 272, 283, 285, 324 
and science, 185, 186, 204, 205-6 
and signs, 166, 167, 168, 169 
and space, 216 
See Intellect, Understanding, Reason 
Intelligent, the, contrasted with the 
merely intelligible, 185 
Intelligible reality in ancient philosophy, 
world, 169 
Intelligibles of Plotinus, 374 
Intension of knowledge, 157-8 
Intensity of consciousness varies with 
ratio of possible to real action, 
Intention as contrasted with mechanism, 
246. See Automatic order, Willed 
of life the object of instinct, 186, 
Interaction, universal, 198, 199 
Interest as cause of variation, 138 
in representation of “nought,” 310, 
311. See Affection, réle of, etc. 
Internal finality, 43 
Internality of instinct, 177, 184, 186 
of subject in object the condition of 
knowledge of reality, 324, 334, 

Interpenetration, 170, 171, 184, 187, 
194 note, 198, 199, 212-14, 219, 
271, 272, 284, 337, 360, 372 
Interruption, materiality an, of positivity, 
231, 259, 261, 337-8. See In- 
verse relation, etc. 
Interval of time, 9, 23, 24 
between what is done and what might 
be done covered by consciousness, 
Intuition, continuity between sensible and 
ultra-intellectual, 381 
dialectic and, in philosophy, 251. See 
Intellect as inversion of intuition 

a ee 


fringe of, around the nucleus of intel- 
lect, xili, 49, 52, 203 
and instinct, 186-8, 192 
and intellect in theoretical know- 
ledge, 186-8, 285, 361-3 
Intuitional cosmology as 
psychology, 219-20 
metaphysics contrasted with intel- 
lectual or systematic, 202, 282-4, 


method of philosophy, apparent vicious 
circle of, 202-4, 206-8 
Intuitionism in Spinoza, 367 
and intellectualism in Descartes, 365 
Invention, consciousness as, and freedom, 
278, 285 
creativeness of, 173, 252, 359, 360 
‘ disproportion between, and its conse- 
quences, 191, 192-3 
duration as, 11 
evolution as, 108, 269, 364 
fervour of, 173 
indivisibility of, 173 
inference a beginning of, 145 
mechanical, 150, 205 
of steam engine as epoch-marking, 
time as, 360 
unforeseeableness of, 173 
upspringing of, 173 
See Novelty 
Inverse relation of the physical and 
psychical, 133, 151, 152, 183, 187, 
214,255, 214, 220, 229,224, 226; 
230, 234, 235, 249, 253, 258, 259, 
261, 262, 270, 271, 275, 278, 279, 
285, 337-8 
Irreversibility of duration. 
Isolated systems of matter, 215, 225, 
2275 254, 255, 360, 361, 366, 367, 
368. See Bodies 

See Repeti- 

Janet, Paul, 64 note 

Jennings, 37 note 

Jourdain and the two kinds of order, 

Juxtaposition, 219, 357, 358, 360. Cf. 


Kaleidoscopic variation, 78 
Kant, antinomies of, 216, 217 
becoming in Kant’s successors, 383 
coincidence of matter with space in 
Kant’s philosophy, 217, 219, 257 
construction the method of Kant’s 
successors, 384-5 
his criticism of pure reason, 216, 303 
note, 376-82, 385 


degrees of being in Kant’s successors, 
duration in Kant’s successors, 383 
intelligence in Kant’s philosophy, 
242, 378 
ontological argument in Kant’s phil- 
osophy, 300 
space and time in Kant’s philosophy, 
and Spencer, 385 
See Mind and _ things, 
manifold, Thing-in-itself 
Kantianism, 379, 385 
Katagenesis, 36 
Kepler, 241, 350-53 
Knowledge and action, 158, 204, 207, 
208, 218, 219, 230 
criticism of, 204 
discontinuity of, 323 
extension of, 157 
form of, 156, 205, 378-82 
formal, 160 
genesis of, 201 
innate or natural, 154-8 
instinct in, 150, 151, 157, 175-8, 
132; 187; 20%, 20g, 252 
intellect in, Introd., 51, 157, 170-73, 
187, 189, 204, 207-10, 218, 219, 
230, 250, 251, 264, 235, 3287422, 
329, 339, 332, 334, 343, 350, 361, 
362, 367, 380, 381 
intension of, 157-8 
of reality viewed as the internality of 
subject in object, 324, 334, 379 
intuition and intellect in theoretical 
knowledge, 184-7, 189, 251, 285, 
matter of, 205, 378, 380-82 
of matter, xi, 51, 218, 381 
object of, Introd., 1, 51, 155, 156, 
168, 172, 173, 208-10, 285, 361, 
fundamental problem of, 288-go 
as relative to certain requirements of 
the mind, 160, 201, 243 
scientific, 204, 207-9, 
theory of, xiii, 187, 189, 208, 216, 
219, 241, 244 
unconscious, 150-53, 154, 158, 174, 


218, ATO; 

alleged unknowableness of the thing- 
in-itself, 216, 217 
Kunstler, 274 note 

Labbé, 274 note 

Labour, division of, 104, 116, 124, 147 
166, 175, 274 

Lalande, André, 260 note 


Lamarck, 80 
Lamarckism, 80-81, 89-92 
Language, 4, 155, 166-8, 272, 279, 
308, 319, 322, 329-31, 344 
Laplace, 40 
Lapsed intelligence, instinct as, 178, 
Larvae, 20, 147, 153-75, 182 
Latent geometrism of intellect, 205, 
Law of correlation, 70, 71 
and genera, 238-42, 348 
heliocentric radius-vector in Kepler’s 
laws, 352 
imprint of relations and laws upon 
consciousness in Spencer’s phil- 
osophy, 198 
and intuitional philosophy, 186 
physical, contrasted with the laws of 
our codes, 230-31 
physical, expression of the negative 
movement, 230 
physical, mathematical form of, 230, 
231, 242, 254 
relation as, 241, 242-3 
Learning, instinctive, 203, 204 
Le Dantec, 19 note 
Leibniz, cause in, 292 
dogmatism of, 377, 378 
extension in, 371, 372 
God in, 371, 372, 377 
mechanism in, 368, 371, 375, 376 
his philosophy a systematization of 
physics, 367 
space in, 371-2 
teleology in, 41, 42 
time in, 372, 333 
Lepidoptera, 120 ncte, 141 
Le Roy, Ed., 230 note 
Liberation of consciousness, 194, 279, 
Liberty. See Freedom 
Life as activity, 135-6, 259 
cause in the realm of, 100, 173 
complementarity of the powers of, 
Introd., 27, 28, 54-8, 102-10, 
116, 119, 122-5, 133, 138-43, 
148-50, 186, 187, 194, 195, 260, 
268-71, 280, 284, 362, 364 
consciousness co-extensive with, 196, 
271, 284, 383 
mutual contingency of the orders of 
life and matter, 248 
continuity of, 1-12, 31, 32, 171, 172, 
as creation, 61, 170, 235, 243, 261, 
265, 268, 269 
symbolized by a curve, 32, 95, 96 
embryonic, 175 


and finality, 46, 94, 173, 194, 235 

fluidity of, 161, 174, 202, 204 

as free, 136-7 

function of, 99, 112-16, 119, 120, 
¥23, 326, 127, 193; 382-4, 266, 
260, 267-70 

harmony of the realm of, 53, 54, 108, 
509,122, 124, 133 

imitation of the inert by, 243 

imitation of, by the inert, 35-8 

impulse of, prolonged in our will, 

and individuation, 13-15, 27, 28, 84, 
90, 92, 93, 134, 157, 206, 243, 
244, 263, 273, 275, 284, 317, 318- 
19. See Individuality 

indivisibility of, 238, 285 

and instinct, 143-7, 153, 174-7, 179, 
181, 182, 185-9, 196, 203-8, 246, 
278, 387 

and inteilect, Introd., 14, 34-7, 47-52, 
94, 106, 108, 110, 134, 143, 160, 
169-74, 177, 183, 186-9, 191, 202- 
22, 227, 218, 22%, 242, Se 8, 
238, 271-5, 280, 284, 317, 361, 
375) 379-81, 381, 386, 387 

and interpenetration, 271 

as inversion of the inert, 7, 8, 186, 

187, 196, 200, 201, 207, 208, 212, 

21%, 218, 220, 222, 224,228, 320 

230, 235, 238, 245, 248, 249, 252, 

253, 258-63, 278, 345-9 

limited force, 133, 134, 149, 156. 

157, 268 

and memory, 176 

penetrating matter, 27, 28, 54, 189, 
I9I, 192, 250, 252, 280, 284, 285, 

as tendency to mobility, 134, 138, 139 

and physics and chemistry, 33, 35, 375 
38, 238 

in other planets, 270 

as potentiality, 272 

repetition in, and in the inert, 237, 
238, 243, 244 

sinuousness of, 75, 103, 104, 107, 
118, 119, 122, 136, 224 

social, 145, 147, 166, 279 

in other solar systems, 270 

and evolution of species, 261, 268, 

theory of, and theory of knowledge, 
xiil, 187, 189, 208 

unforeseeableness ot, 6, 9, 21, 28, 30, 
31, 39, 48, 50, 51, 55, 91, 102, 
stig 173, 194, 236, 262, 358, 


unity of, 263, 282, 285 

as a wave flowing over matter, 264, 



See Impulse of, Organic substance, 
Organism, Organization, Vital 
impetus, Vital order, Vital prin- 
ciple, Vitalism, Willed order 

Limitations of instinct and of intelli- 

_ gence, 160 

Limitedness of the scope of Galileo’s 
physics, 378, 391 
of the vital impetus, 133, 134, 149, 
156, 157, 268 
Linden, Maria von, 120 note 
Lingulae illustrating failure to evolve, 
Lizards, colour variation in, 76-8 
Locomotion and consciousness, 114, 117, 
121,275. See Mobility, Movement 
Logic and action, ix, 47, 49, 171, 189 

formal, 308 

genesis of, xi, xiv, §2, 108, 110, 143, 
202, 203, 317, 379, 387 

and geometry, ix, 169, 170, 186, 224 

impotent to grasp life, x, 14, 34, 36, 
37, 49-52, 94, 106, 160, 171-4, 
177, 183, 186-9, 205-12, 217, 218, 
22 55:2 35,228, 235,276,235; 27 1- 
§, 280, 284, 330, 375, 381, 386 

natural, 170, 205-6 

of number, 220 

and physics, 337, 339 

and time, 4, 292 

See Intellect, Intelligence, Under- 
standing, Mathematical order 

Logical existence contrasted with psychi- 
cal and physical, 292, 314, 346, 
categories, x, 51, 206, 207 
and physical contrasted, 292 
Logik, by Sigwart, 303 nore 
Aoyos in Plotinus, 222 nore 
Looking backward, the attitude of intel- 

lect, 49, 250 
Lumbriculus, 14 

Machinery and intelligence, 148 
Machines, natural and artificial, 146. 
See Implement, Instrument 
organisms, for action, 266, 268, 316- 
heveuteuae certainty of induction ap- 
proached as factors approach pure 
magnitudes, 227, 228 
and modern science, 351, 354 
Man in evolution, attention, 194 
brain, 193, 194, 277-9 
consciousness, 146-50, 190, IQI, 193, 
195, 197, 198, 202, 224, 277-82 
goal, 141, 184, 195, 280, 281, 283, 
habit and invention, 279 


intelligence, 140, 144-6, 150, 164, 
184, 197, 198, 224, 280, 281 
language, 166 
Manacéine (de), 130 xote 
Manufacture, the aim of intellect, 144, 
145, 1§2, 160-62, 168-74, 191, 201, 
202, 210, 264, 314 
and organization, 97, 98, 133, 146-50, 
and repetition, 47, 48, 164-6 
See Construction, Solid, Utility 
Many and one, categories inapplicable to 
Hie; x, 471, 487, 271; 27%, 282 
in the idea of individuality, 272 
See Multiplicity 
Marin, J., 107 note 
Marion, 113 note 
Material knowledge, 160 
Materialists, 253 
Mathematical order. 
Matter. See Inert matter 
Maturation as creative evolution, 50, 
Maupas, 37 note 
Measurement a human convention, 230, 
of real time an illusion, 355-9 
Mechanical account of action after the 
fact, 50 
cause, x, 36, 37, 42, 47, 187, 246, 
procedure of intellect, 174 
invention, 145, 147, 205-6 
necessity, 50, 227, 228, 230, 249, 265, 
278, 285, 345 
Mechanics of transformation, 34 
Mechanism, cerebral, 5, 265, 266, 276, 
277,279,387. See Cerebral activity 
and consciousness 
of the eye, 93 
instinct as, 185-6 
of intellect. See Intellect, mechanism 
and intention, 246. 
order, Willed order 
life more than, x, xv note, 78-9 
Mechanistic philosophy, xii, xv, 18, 31, 
32, 39, 78, 93-101, 107, 108, 205, 
230, 235, 278, 365, 366, 368, 369, 
371, 375» 376, 383 
Medical philosophers of the eighteenth 
century, 376 
science, 174 
Medullary bulb in the development of 
the nervous system, 266 
and consciousness, 116 
Memory, 5;, 18, 23, 22; 176, 177, 190, 
1Ol, 25s 

See Inert matter, 

See Automatic 


Menopause in illustration of crisis of 
evolution, 20 
Mental life, unity of, 282 
Metamorphoses of larvae, 147, 154, 
Metaphysics and duration, 291 
and epistomology, 187, 189, 195, 208, 
Galileo’s influence on, 22, 241 
instinctive, 202, 283, 284, 293 
and intellect, 200 
and matter, 205 
natural, 22, 343 
and science, 185, 205, 209, 220, 364, 
374 39% 
systematic, 201, 202, 204, 206, 251, 
283, 284, 367, 393 
Metchnikoff, 19 note 
Method of philosophy, 202 
Microbes, illustrating divergence of 
tendency, 123 
Microbial colonies, 273 
Mind, individual, in philosophy, 201 
and intellect, 51, 217 
knowledge as relative to certain re- 
quirements of the mind, 160, 201, 
and matter, 199, 212, 213, 214, 217, 
278, 283, 284, 370, 386-90 
See Psychic, Psycho-physiological 
parallelism, Psychology and Phil- 
osophy, ux} 
Minot, Sedgwick, 18 note 
Mobility, tendency toward, characterises 
animals, 115, 116, 119, 136-9, 
142, 190 
and consciousness, 114, 117, 122, 275 
and intellect, 163, 170, 172, 316, 
3445 3455 355 
of intelligent signs, 167, 168 
life as tendency toward, 134, 138, 
in plants, 118, 142 
See Motion 
Mibius, 63 note 
Model necessary to the constructive work 
of intellect, 173, 186 
Modern astronomy compared with 
ancient science, 353, 354 
geometry compared with ancient 
science, 33, 169, 352 
idealism, 244 
philosophy compared with ancient, 
238-41, 244, 346, 364, 365, 369- 
71, 374, 377 
philosophy: parallelism of body and 
mind in, 190, 370, 371, 375, 376 
science ; cinematographical character 

of, 347, 348, 355, 360, 361, 365-7 

science compared with ancient, 347- 

55, 361-4, 377 
science, Galileo’s influence on, 352, 
science, Kepler’s influence on, 352 
science, magnitudes the object of, 351, 
science, time an independent variable 
in, 21, 354 
Molecules, 264 
Molluscs, illustrating animal tendency to 
mobility, 136-8 
perception in, 199 
vision in, 63, 79, 81, 88, 91, 92 
Monads of Leibniz, 371-4 
Monera, 133 
Monism, 376 | 
Moral sciences, weakness of deduction 
in, 224 
Morat, 130 note 
Morgan, L., 84 note, 85 
Motion, abstract, 321 
articulations of, 327-8 
an animal characteristic, 265 
and the cinematograph, 321-2 
continuity of, 327 
in Descartes, 366 

evolutionary, extensive and qualita- 

tive, 319, 320, 328, 329 
in general (f.e. abstract), 321 

indivisibility of, 323, 328, 355, 

and instinct, 147, 350-51 

and intellect, 75, 163, 164, 168, 172, 
288, 289, 314, 335, 339s 3475 350, 

357, 364 

organization of, 327-8 

track laid by motion along its course, 

325-8, 355, 356 
See Mobility, Movement 

Motive principle of evolution: con- 

sciousness, Ig1-2 

Motor mechanisms, cerebral, 265, 266, 

277, 279 
Moulin-Quignon, quarry of, 144 
Moussu, 86 

Movement and animal life, 114, 138, 


ascending, 12, 106, 109, I10, 195, 
220, 222, 391... Gee Vital. im- 


consciousness and, 117, 124, 152, 


descending, 12, 213-15, 219-21, 224, 
259, 265, 270, 285, 291, 358, 382, 


goal of, the object of the intellect, 

163, 315-16, 318, 319, 320 
intellect unable to grasp, 330 

sible is Hat ot 



mutual inversion of cosmic move- 
ments, 133, I51, 152, 183, 186, 
E87, 22%, 224, 229; 230, 235, 
249, 258-64, 275, 278, 279, 287, 
life as, 175, 186-7, 268 
and the nervous system, 116, 139, 
141, 190, 276, 277 
of plants, 115, 142-3 
See Mobility, Motion, Locomotion, 
Current, Tendency, Impetus, Im- 
pulse, Impulsion 
Movements, antagonistic cosmic, 135- 
0, $42, 291,195, 263, 273.. See 
Movement, Mutual inversion of 
Multiplicity, abstract, 271, 273 
distinct, 213, 221, 271. See Inter- 
does not apply to life, x, 171, 187, 
271, 275, 284 
Mutability, exhaustion of, of the uni- 
verse, 257, 258 
Mutations, sudden, 29, 66, 68-72 
theory of, 90-91 

Natural geometry, 205-6, 222-4 
instrument, 14.8, 152, 158-9 
or innate knowledge, 154, 58-9 
logic, 170, 205-6 
metaphysic, 22, 343-4 
selection, 57, 60, 63, 65-9, 72, 101, 
178, 179 
Nature, Aristotelian theory of, 142, 
discord in, 133, 134, 269, 281 
facts and relations in, 389 
incoherence in, 110 
as inert matter, 170, 230, 231, 241- 
S, 28S, 258, 276,296, 322,> 376, 
380, 388 
as life, 105, 145, 147, 149, 150, 152, 
158, 162, 164, 239, 254, 274, 283, 
285, 317-18 
order of, 238 
as ordered diversity, 244, 246 
unity of, 110, 200, 201, 206, 207-10, 
340, 372-7, 378 
Nebula, cosmic, 262, 271 
Necessity for creation, vital impetus as, 
and death of individuals, 260 zote 
and freedom, 230, 249, 285 
in Greek philosophy, 344-5 
in induction, 227, 228 
and matter, 265, 278 
Negation, 290, 301-13. See Nought 
Negative cause of mathematical order, 
229. See Inverse relation, etc. 


cosmic principle, 133, 151, 152, 183- 
4, 186-7, 221, 224, 230, 235-36, 
249, 258-64, 275, 278, 279, 287, 
362-3. See Inert matter, Opposi- 
tion of the two ultimate cosmic 
movements, etc. 

Neo-Darwinism, 58, 59, 90, 91, 178, 

Neo-Lamarckism, 80-81, 89, g1-2, 179 

Neo-vitalism, 44 note 

Nervous system a centre of action, 
115, 136-7, 139, 141-2, 190, 266, 

of the plant, 120 
primacy of, 126-7, 133, 265 

Neurone and indetermination, 133 

New, freedom and the, 12, 172, 173, 
210-11, 230, 243, 252, 262, 285, 

Newcomen, 194 

Newton, 354 

Nitrogen and the function of organisms, 
I14, 119, 120, 123, 269 

vorjaews vonas of Aristotle, 376 

Non-existence, See Nought 

Nothing. See Nought 

Nought, conception of the, 288-95, 
297-9, 305, 306, 308-14, 334, 
345. See Negation, Pseudo-ideas, 

vovs mointixds of Aristotle, 340 

Novelty. See New 

Nucleus, intelligence as the luminous, 
enveloped by instinct, 186-7 

in microbial colonies, 273 

intelligence as the solid, bathed by a 
mist of instinct, 203, 204 

of Stentor, 274 

Number illustrating degrees of reality, 
341-2, 345 
logic of, 220 
Nuptial flight, 153, 154 
Nutritive elements, fixation of, 113-15, 
120; 123,;259, 206,:267 
Nymph (Zool.), 147, 154 

Object of this book, ix-xv 

of instinct, 153-60, 172, 185-8 

of intellect, 153-60, 161-4, 170-74, 
185, 189,201, 210-21, 290, 263, 
265, 285, 288, 314-20, 324-5, 328- 
9, 339) 347-8, 374) 379 > 

internality of subject in, the condition 
of knowledge of reality, 324-5, 
334-5, 379 

of knowledge, 155, 156-7, 168 

idea of, contrasted with that of uni- 
versal interaction, 12, 198, 199, 


of philosophy as contrasted with object 
of science, 206-7, 232-3, 238, 239, 
252, 264, 285, 288, 313-15, 323- 
4, 367 
of science, 347, 351-2, 354-5 — 
Obliteration of outlines in the real, 12, 
198, 199, 219 
Oenothera Lamarckiana, 67, 90-91 
Old, growing. See Age 
the, is the object of the intellect, 
$72, £73,210, 285 
One and many in the idea of individu- 
ality, x, 272. See Unity 
Ontological argument in Kant, 300 
Opposition of the two ultimate cosmic 
movements, 135-6, 185-6, 189, 196, 
Rit, B14, 251, 261, 268, 273, 276, 
281. See Inverse relation of the 
physical and psychical 
Orchids, instincts of, 179 
Order and action, 238-9 
complementarity of the two orders, 
153, 182-3, 233-4. See Order, 
Mutual inversion of the two orders 
mutual contingency of the two orders, 
244, 248 
and disorder, 43, 109, 232-4, 238, 
244-9, 259 
mutual inversion of the two orders, 
196, 212, 213, 218-20, 222, 224, 
228-30, 231-3, 235, 238-9, 243, 
245, 248, 249, 251, 253, 258-61, 
270, 271, 272, 278, 285, 289, 430, 
mathematical, 161, 220-22, 229-31, 
235-8, 243-6, 249, 258, 264, 235, 
of nature, 238, 244, 246 
as satisfaction, 234, 235, 289 
vital, 100, 173, 235-9, 243, 248, 
249, 252, 345-9 
willed, 236, 252 
Organ and function, 93-6, 99, 100, 
139, 147, 148, 166, 170 
Organic destruction and 
chemistry, 238 
substance, 137, 147, 149, 157, 171, 
206, 260 note, 269, 281 
world, cleft between, and the in- 
organic, 200, 201, 207, 208-9 
world, harmony of, 53, 54, 108, 109, 
122, 124, 133-4 
world, instinct the procedure of, 174 
Organism and action, 130, 131, 183, 
266, 268, 316-17 
ambiguity of primitive, 104, 118, 119, 
P22, 436, 537 
association of organisms, 274 

change and the, 317, 318-19 

physico - 

complementarity of intelligence and 
instinct in the, 149, 158, 191, 194, 

complexity of the, 171, 263, 265, 
266, 274 

consciousness and the, 117, 152, 189, 
190, 276, 284 

contingency of the actual chemical 
nature of the, 269, 271 

differentiation of parts in, 266, 274. 
See Organism, complexity of 

extension of, by artificial instruments, 

148, 170 
freedom the property of every, 136-7, 

function of, 27, 28, 84, go, 92, 93, 
99, 112-16, 119, 120, 123, 126, 
127, 133, 134, 143, 182-5, 243, 
244, 259, 260, 263, 264, 267, 269, 
270, 273, 284 

function and structure, 58, 65, 66, 73, 
78, 79s 81, 91, 93-6, 99, 100, 102, 
125, 139, 147, 148, 166, 171, 263, 
265, 270 

generality typified by similarity among 
organisms, 236, 237, 241, 243 

hive as, 175 

and individuation, x, 13, 14, 16- 
24, 28, 45, 157, 206-7, 238, 241, 
273, 274, 275, 285 

mutual interpenetration of organisms, 

mechanism of the, 32, 98, 99 

philosophy and the, 206-7 

unity of the, 186-7 

Organization of action, 149, 153, 155, 
158, 191, 194, 195 

of duration, 6, 16, 26, 27 

explosive character of, 97 

and instinct, 25, 145-53, 1§8, 174- 
6, 181, 182, 183, 186, 203, 204, 

and intellect, 170 

and manufacture, 97, 98, 100, 101, 

is the modus vivendi between the an- 
tagonistic cosmic currents, 191, 
263, 268 

of motion, 327 

and perception, 239 

Originality of the willed order, 236 

Orthogenesis, 73, 91-2 

Oscillation between association and in- 
dividuation, 273,275. See Societies. 

of ether, 317-18 

of instinct and intelligence about a 
mean position, 143 

of pendulum, illustrating space and 
time in ancient philosophy, 336-7 


Gy ee a, en —— 
wpa ee 

a ee 2 
Sw Pass | Sos os 
pe Se ee 

INDEX 417 

between representation of inner and 
outer reality, 295 
of sensible reality in ancient philosophy 
about being, 334-5 
Outlines of perception the plan of action, 
5, 12, 13, 99, 198, 199, 216, 218, 
239, 241, 243, 263,, 316, 323 
Oxygen, 120, 267, 269 

Paleontology, 25-6, 136, 146 
Paleozoic era, 107 
Parallelism, psycho - physiological, 190, 
37°, 371, 375, 376 
Paralysing instinct in hymenoptera, 147, 
153, 181, 184-5 
Parasites, 112, 114, 415, 417-19, 
Parasitism, 139 
Passivity, 235-6 
Past, subsistence of, in present, 5, 21-4, 
28, 114, 210-13 
Peckham, 182 note 
Pecten, illustrating identical structures 
in divergent lines of evolution, 66, 
67, 79 
Pedagogical and social nature of nega- 
tion, 303-13 
Pedagogy and the function of the intel- 
lect, 174 
Penetration, reciprocal, 170. Sce Inter- 
Perception and action, 5, 12, 13, 99, 
198, 199, 218, 239, 240-41, 316- 
and becoming, 186, 320-23 
cinematographical character of, 218, 
262, 264, 350 
cistinctness of, 239, 263 
and geometry, 216, 243 
in molluscs, 199 
and organization, 239 
prolonged in intellect, 170, 288 
reaction in, 278 
and recollection, 190, 191 
refracts reality, 216, 251, 380 
rhythm of, 316, 317 
and science, 177 
Permanence an illusion, 316-17 
Peron, 85 
Perrier, Ed., 274 note 
Personality, absolute reality of, 283 
concentration of, 212, 213 
and matter, 283, 284 
the object of intuition, 282 
tension of, 210, 211, 2i2 
Perthes, Boucher de, 144 
Phaedrus, 164 note 
Phagocytes and external finality, 44 
Phagocytosis and growing old, 19 

Phantom ideas and problems, 187, 293, 
299, 312 
Philosophical explanation contrasted 
with scientific explanation, 177 
Philosophy and art, 186-7 
and biology, 46, 204-6 
and experience, 208-9 
function of 31, 89, 99, 177, 183, 204- 
Fy 209; 282; 283,367 
history of, 251 
incompletely conscious of itself, 219, 
individual mind in, 201 
and intellect, ix-xv 
intellect and intuition in, 251 
of intuition, 186-7, 202-4, 207-8, 293 
method of, 202, 204, 205, 252 
object of, 252 
and the organism, 206-7 
and physics, 205, 220 
and psychology, 204, 206 
and science, 185, 207-8, 220, 364, 391 
See Ancient philosophy, Cosmology, 
Finalism, Mechanistic philosophy, 
Metaphysics, Modern philosophy, 
Post-Kantian philosophy, Teleology 
Phonograph illustrating ‘“ unwinding” 
cause, 77 
Phosphorescence, consciousness com- 
pared to, 276 
Photograph, illustrating the nature of 
the intellectual view of reality, 32, 
Photography, instantaneous, illustrating 
the mechanism of the intellec, 
Physical existence, as contr «sted with 
logical, 292, 314, 346, 382 
laws, their precise form artificial, 
230,231, 244, 244 
laws and the negative cosmic move- 
ment, 230 
operations the objec:t of intelligence, 
185, 263 
order, imitation of, by the vital, 243 
science, 186-7.’ 
Physico-chemistry and organic destruc- 
tion, 238 
and biology, 27, 3.1, 36, 37, 38, 58, 
76, 78, 103, 204, 375 
Physics, ancient, “ logic spoiled,” 337, 

of ancient philosophy, 332, 337, 339, 


of Aristotle, 2.40 note, 342 note, 349, 

and deduction, 225 

of Galileo, 377, 391 

and individuality of bodies, 198, 219 




as inverted psychics, 213 
and logic, 337, 339 
and metaphysics, 205, 21g 
and mutability, 258 
success of, 230, 231 
Pigment-spot and adaptation, 63, 64, 
74-6, 81 
and heredity, 88-9 
Pinguicula, certain animal characteristics 
of, 112 
Plan, motionless, of action the object 
Of; intellect, 163, 346, 918, 
Planets, life in other, 270 
Plants and animals in evolution, 111-46, 
150, 151, 153, 154, 177, 179, 191, 
192, 194, 195, 267, 281 
complementarity of, to animals, 194, 
195, 281 
consciousness of, 115, 117, 119, 126, 
135-42, 150, E51, 191, 192, 308. 
See Torpor, Sleep 
function of, 113-15, 119, 120, 123, 
259, 260, 267, 269 
function and structure in, 71, 82-3 
individuation in, 13 
instinct in, 179, 180 
and mobility, 114, 115, 117-19, 124, 
125, 136, 142-3 
parallelism of evolution with animals, 
62-3, 112-14, 122 
supporters of all life, 286 
variation of, go, gI 
Plasma, continuity of germinative, 27, 
44, 33-8 
Plastic- substances, 269 
Plato, §1, 164, 201, 222 note, 333, 334, 
335. 3.39 342, 341, 345, 349, 366, 


Platonic ideas;, 51, 332-4, 336, 339, 340, 
345, 349, 372 

Plotinus, 222 :2fe, 331-2, 341, 343 nofe, 
369, 372, 3.74 

Plurality, confused, of life, 271. See 
Interpenetrati on 

Poem, sounds of, distinct to perception ; 
the sense indivisible to intuition, 

illustrating creation of matter, 253, 


roinTiKos, vous, of Arristotle, 340 

Polymorphism of amts, bees, and wasps, 

of insect societies, 166 

Polyzoism, 274 

Positive reality, 220, 2.24. See Reality 

Positivity, materiality’ an inversion or 
interruption of, 231, 259, 261, 

Possible activity as a factor in con- 
sciousness, 12, 13, 162, 25%, 262, 
154, 167, 174, 189, 190, 191, 199, 
278, 389 

existence, 306, 311 
Post-Kantian philosophy, 383, 384 
Potential activity. See Possible activity 
genera, 239 
knowledge, 150-55, 158, 175 

Potentiality, life as an immense, 272, 

zone of, surrounding acts, 189, 190, 
191, 278. See Possible activity 

Powers of life, complementarity of, 
xil, xill, 27, 28, 54-8, 102-10, 116, 
119, 122-4, 125, 133, 138-3, 
148-50, 186, 187, 194, 195, 260, 
268, 269, 271, 280, 284, 362, 364 

Practical nature of perception and its 
prolongation in intellect and science, 
xi, 144-8, 158, 204, 207, 208, 218, 
219, 230, 261, 288, 297, 322, 323, 
346, 347 

Pre-established harmony, 217, 218 

Present, creation of, by past, 5, 21-4, 
28, 176, 210-13 

Prevision. See Foreseeing 

Primacy of nervous system, 126-33, 265 

Primary instinct, 146, 177 

Primitive organisms, ambiguous form of, 
104, 118, 119, 122, 136, 137 

“Procession” in Alexandrian  phil- 
osophy, 341 

Progress, adaptation and, 107 ff, 

evolutionary, 53, 140, I41, 145, 149, 
183, 184, 195, 279, 280 

Prose and verse, illustrating the two 
kinds of orders, 233, 245 

Protophytes, colonizing of, 273 

Protoplasm, circulation of, 34, 114 

and senescence, 19, 20 

imitation of, 34, 37 

primitive, and the nervous system, 
131, 133 

of primitive organisms, 104, 114, 

and the vital principle, 45 

Protozoa, association of, 273-5 

ageing of, 17 

of ambiguous form, 118 

and individuation, 15, 273-5 

mechanical explanation of movements 
of, 35 

and nervous system, 133 

reproduction of, 15 

Pseudo-ideas and problems, 187, 293, 
299, 312 

Pseudoneuroptera, division of labour 
among, 147 


Re * pee _ 

INDEX 419 

Yuxh of Aristotle, 369 
of Plotinus, 222 xote 
Psychic activity, two-fold nature of, 143, 
148, 150 
life, continuity of, 1-12, 31 
Psychical existence contrasted with 
logical, 292, 314, 346, 382 
nature of life, 271 
Psychics inverted physics, 212, 213. See 
Inverse relation of the physical and 
Psychology and deduction, 224 
and the genesis of intellect, 197, 204, 
intuitional cosmology as_ reversed, 
Psycho-physiological parallelism, 190, 
379, 371, 3755 376 
Puberty, illustrating crises in evolution, 

20, 349 

Qualitative, evolutionary and extensive 
becoming, 331 
motion, 319, 320, 328 
Qualities, acts, forms, the classes of re- 
presentation, 319, 331 
bodies as bundles of, 317 
coincidence of, 326 
and movements, 316 
and natural geometry, 223 
superimposition of, in induction, 
Quality is change, 316 
in Eleatic philosophy, 331-2 
and quantity in ancient philosophy, 
and quantity in modern philosophy, 
and rhythm, 317-18 
Quaternary substances, 127-8 
Quinton, René, 141 note 

Radius-vector, Heliocentric, in Kepler’s 
laws, 353 

Rank, evolutionary, 53, 140-42, 183, 
184, 279 

Reaction, réle of, in perception, 239 

Ready-made categories, x, xiv, 51, 250, 
263, 264, 288, 328, 339, 347, 374 

Real ‘ Lily as distinguished from 

possible, 152 

common sense is continuous ex - 
perience of the, 225 

continuity of the, 318, 347 

dichotomy of the, in modern phil- 
osophy, 370 

imitation of the, by intelligence, 95, 
215, 272, 285, 324, 386 

obliteration of outlines in the, 12, 
198-9, 219 
representation of the, by science, 215 
Realism, ancient, 244 
Realists and idealists alike assume possi- 
bility of absence of order, 232, 244 
Reality, absolute, 209, 241, 242, 283, 
379, 381 
as action, 50, 202, 205, 262 
degrees of, 341, 345 
in dogmatic metaphysics, 207 
double form of, 189, 228, 243, 249 
as duration, 12, 229, 287 
as flux, 174, 263, 264, 310, 355, 356, 
361, 364 
and the frames of the intellect, 384-5. 
See Frames of the understanding 
as freedom, 261 
of genera in ancient philosophy, 
is growth, 252 
imitation of, by the intellect, 95, 386 
and the intellect, 55, 95, 161, 201, 
202, 332, 386 
intelligible, in ancient philosophy, 334 
knowledge of, 324, 334, 379 
and mechanism, 371, 375 
as movement, 96, 163, 318, 329 
and not-being, 291, 295, 301 
of the person, 283 
refraction of, through the forms of 
perception, 216, 251, 380 
and science, 204, 206, 208, 209, 215, 
218-20, 374, 377 
sensible, in ancient philosophy, 331, 
334, 339» 345s 346, 372 
symbol of, xi, 32, 75, 94, 99, 206-7, 
221, 253, 361, 381, 390 
undefinable conceptually, 14, 51 
unknowable in Kant, 216 
unknowable in Spencer, xi 
views of, 32, 75, 89, 94, 210, 212, 
RIS, £36, 2625.07%, 285; 437-29, 
328, 331, 350, 361, 371, 372 
Reason and life, 7, 8, 51, 170 
cannot transcend itself, 204 
Reasoning and acting, 203 
and experience, 215 
and matter, 216, 220 
on matter and life, 7, 8 
Recollection, dependence of, on special 
circumstances, 176, 190 
in the dream, 213, 219 
and perception, 190, 191 
Recommencing, continual, of the present 
in the state of relaxation, 212 
Recomposing, decomposing and, the 
characteristic powers of intellect, 
165, 264 


Record, false comparison of memory 
with, 5 
Reflection, 167 
Reflex activity, 116 
compound, 183, 185 
Refraction of the idea through matter of 
non-being, 334 
of reality through forms of percep- 
tion, 216, 251, 380 
Regeneration and individuality, 14, 15 
Register of time, 17, 21, 39 
Reinke, 44 note 
Relation, imprint of relations and laws 
upon consciousness, 198 
as law, 241, 242-3 
and thing, 155-60, 165, 168, 169, 
197, 213, 372, 377 
Relativism, epistemological, 207, 208, 
Relativity of immobility, 163 
of the intellect, xi, 51, 160, 161, 197, 
206, 208, 209, 231, 288, 323, 381 
of knowledge, 160, 201, 243 
of perception, 239, 241, 316-17 
Relaxation in the dream state, 213, 221 
and extension, 213, 219, 221, 222, 
224, 230, 235, 258 
and, intellect, 212, 219, 222, 224, 
logic a, of virtual geometry, 224 
matter a, of unextended into extended, 
memory vanishes in complete, 212 
necessity as, of freedom, 230 
present continually recommences in 
the state of relaxation, 212 
will vanishes in complete, 212, 219 
See Tension 
Releasing cause, 77, 78, 121, 125-6 
Repetition and generalization, 243, 244 
and fabrication, 47, 48, 164-6 
and intellect, 165, 210, 226-8 
of states, 6, 8, 30, 31, 38, 48, 49 
in the vital and in the mathematical 
order, 237, 238, 243, 244 
Representation and action, ISI, 152, 
classes of : qualities, forms, acts, 319, 
8 Le 
and consciousness, 151 
of motion, 168, 320, 321, 323, 324, 
330, 332, 364 
of the Nought, 288-95, 297-9, 305- 
14, 3345 345 } } : 
Represented or internalized action dis- 
tinguished from externalized action, 
152-4, 167, 174 
Reproduction and individuation, 14, 15 
Resemblance. See Similarity 

Reservoir, organism a, of energy, 121 
122, 131-2, 258, 260, 267 
Rest and motion in Zeno, 324-9 
Retrogression in evolution, 140, 141 
Retrospection the function of intellect, 
50, 250 
Reversed psychology: intuitional cos- 
mology, 220 
Rhizocephala and animal mobility, 117 
Rhumbler, 35 xote 
Rhythm of duration, 12, 134, 317, 365-6 
intelligence adopts the, of action, 323 
of perception, 316, 317 
and quality, 317 
scanning the, of the universe the 
function of science, 366 
of science must coincide with that of 
action, 348 
of the universe untranslatable into 
scientific formulae, 356 
Rings of arthropods, 139 
Ripening, creative evolution as, 50, 
Romanes, 146 
Roule, 28 nore 
Roy (Le), Ed., 130 note 

Salamandra maculata, vision in, 30 

Salensky, 79 note 

Same, function of intellect connecting 
same with same, 210, 246, 285 

Samter and Heymons, 77 note 

Saporta (De), 115 nore 

Savage’s sense of distance and direction, 

Scepticism or dogmatism the dilemma 
of any systematic metaphysics, 206, 
207, 243 

Schisms in the primitive impulsion of 
life, 268, 271. See Divergent lines 
of evolution 

_ Scholasticism, 391 

Science and action, 98, 206, 209, 347 

ancient, and modern, 347-55, 361-4 

astronomy, ancient and modern, 3535 

cartesian geometry and ancient geo- 
metry, 352 

cinematographical character of modern, 
347, 348, 355, 360, 361, 365-7 

conventionality of a certain aspect of, 

and deduction, 224 

and discontinuity, 171 

function of, 97, 177, 183, 186, 204 
206, 209, 347, 366 

Galileo’s influence on modern, 352, 


eee a 








and instinct, 477, 178, 183, 184, 

and intelligence, 185, 186, 204, 205-6 

Kepler’s influence on modern, 352 

and matter, 205, 218, 219 

modern. See Modern science 

object. of, 206,292, 338, 239,264, 
285, 288, 313-14, 323, 347, 351, 
354, 367 

and perception, 177 

and philosophy, 185, 207, 220, 364, 

physical. See Physics 
and reality. See Reality and science 
and time, 9-13, 21, 354 
unity of, 206, 207, 241, 242, 339, 
3401 304, 367, 308, 3741 378, 380, 

Scientific concepts, 357-8 
explanation and _ philosophical ex- 
planation, 177 
formulae, 356 
geometry, 170, 223 
knowledge, 204, 207, 208, 209, 218, 
219, 230 
Sclerosis and ageing, 20 
Scolia, paralysing instinct in, 181 
Scope of action indefinitely extended by 
intelligent instruments, 148 
of Galileo’s physics, 377, 391 
Scott, 67 note 
Sea-urchin and individuality, 14 
Séailles, 30 note 
Secondary instincts, 146, 177 
Sectioning of becoming in the philosophy 
of Ideas, 335 
of matter by perception, 218, 262, 
Sedgwick, 274 note 
Seeing and willing, coincidence of, in in- 
tuition, 250 
Selection, natural, 57, 60, 63, 65, 66, 
68, 69, 72, 101, 178, 179 
Self, coincidence of, with, 210 
existence of, means change, 1 ff, 
knowledge of, 1 ff. 
Senescence, 16-24, 28, 45 
Sensation and space, 213 
Sense-perception. See Perception 
Sensible flux, 334, 335, 339 341, 342, 
345, 362, 364 
intuition and ultra-intellectual, 381 
object, apogee of, 362, 364, 369 
reality, 331, 334, 339» 345, 346, 372 
Sensibility, forms of, 381 
Sensitive plant, in illustration of mobility 
in plants, 114 
Sensori-motor system. 

See Nervous 


Sensuous manifold, 216, 233, 245, 248, 
Sentiment, poetic, in illustration of in- 
dividuation, 272, 273 
Serkovski, 273 note 
Serpula, in illustration of identical evolu- 
tion in divergent lines, 101 
Sexual cells, 15, 27, 28, 85-6 
Sexuality parallel in plants and animals, 
62-3, 125-6 
Shaler, N.S., 140 note, 194. note 
Sheath, calcareous, in illustration of 
animal tendency to mobility, 137-8 
Signs, function of, 166, 167, 168 
the instrument of science, 347-8 
Sigwart, 303 xote 
Silurian epoch, failure of certain species 
to evolve since, 107 
Similarity among individuals of same 
species the type of generality, 236- 
8, 241, 243 
and mechanical causality, 47, 48 
Simultaneity, to measure time is merely 
to count simultaneities, 9, 355, 356, 
Sinuousness of evolution, 75, 103, 107, 
Sitaris, unconscious knowledge of, 153, 
Situation and magnitude, problems of, 
Sketching movements, function of con- 
sciousness, 219 
Sleep, 135-7, 142, 191 
Snapshot, in illustration of intellectual 
representation of motion, 321, 323, 
330, 332, 364. See View of reality, 
Cinematographical character, etc. 
form defined as a, of transition, 318 
334, 335» 339, 364 
Social instinct, 106, 147, 166, 181 
life, 145, 147, 166, 279 
and pedagogical character of negation, 
Societies, 106, 138, 166, 181, 273 
Society and the individual, 274, 279 
Solar energy stored by plants, released 
by animals, 259, 267 
systems, 254-7, 260 nore, 270, 285 
systems, life in other, 270 
Solid, concepts analogous to solids, ix 
intellect as a solid nucleus, 203, 204 
the material of construction and the 
object of the intellect, 161, 162 
169, 170, 174, 264 
Solidarity between brain and conscious- 
ness, 190, 276 
of the parts of matter, 214, 219, 254 


Solidification operated by the under- 
standing, 262 
o@pua in Aristotle, 369 
Somnambulism and consciousness, 151, 
152, 167 
Soul and body, 369 
and cell, 283 
creation of, 284 
Space and action, 214 
in ancient philosophy, 335, 336 
and concepts, 169, 171, 184, 186, 
199, 271-3 
geometrical, 214 
homogeneity of, 165, 224 
and induction, 228 
in Kant’s philosophy, 216, 217, 219, 

in Leibniz’s philosophy, 371 
and matter, 199, 213-24, 257, 271, 
278, 382, 389 
and time in Kant’s philosophy, 216- 
unity and multiplicity determinations 
of, 271-3 
See Extension 
Spatiality atmosphere of, bathing intel- 
ligence, 216 
degradation of the extra-spatial, 219 
and distinctness, 214, 219, 257, 263, 
and geometrical space, 214, 222, 225, 
and mathematical order, 220, 221 
Special instincts and environment, 145, 
177, 203, 204 
and recollections, 176, 177, 190 
as variations on a theme, 176, 181, 278 
Species, articulate, 140 
evolution of, 261, 268, 283 
and external finality, 135, 137, 138, 
fossil, 107 
human, as goal of evolution, 280, 281 
human, styled homo faber 146 
and instinct, 147, 176, 180-82, 278 
and life, 176 
similarity within, 236-8, 241, 243 
Speculation, dead-locks in, xii, 163, 164, 
329, 330-3" 
object of philosophy, 46, 160, 206, 
209, 232, 238, 239, 264, 285, 288, 
313-14, 323, 334, 367 
Spencer, Herbert, xi, xiv, 82-3, 161, 
198, 200, 201, 385, 386 
Spencer’s evolutionism, correspondence 
between mind and matter in, 389 
cosmogony in, 198 
imprint of relations and laws upon 
consciousness in, 198 

matter in, 386, 388 
mind in, 386, 388 
Spheres, concentric, in Aristotle’s philo- 
sophy, 346 
Sphex, paralysing instinct in, 182-5 
Spiders and paralysing hymenoptera, 182 
Spinal cord, 116 
Spinoza, the adequate and the inadequate, 
cause, 293 
dogmatism, 376, 377 
eternity, 374 
extension, 370 
God, 371, 377 
intuitionism, 367 
mechanism, 368, 372, 375, 376 
time, 383 
Spirit, 264, 283, 284 
Spirituality and materiality, 135, 212-14, 
218, 226, 222, 224, 220, 230,241, 
226, 252, 253, 253, 261, 262, 264, 
268, 276, 271, 273, 275, 258, 266 
287, 291, 362 
Spontaneity of life, g1, 252. See Free- 
and mechanism, 42 
in vegetables, 115 
and the willed order, 236 
Sport (biol.), 66 
Starch, in the function of vegetable 
kingdom, 120 
States of becoming, 1, 14, 172, 261, 
315, 316, 324 
Static character of the intellect, 164, 
172, 289, 314 
views of becoming, 288 
Stchasny, 131 note 
Steam-engine and bronze, parallel as 
epoch-marking, 145, 146 
Stentor and individuality, 274 
Stoics, 332-3 
Storing of solar energy by plants, 259, 
Strain of bowand indivisibility of motion, 
Stream, duration a8 a, 41, 357 
Structure and function. See Function 
and structure 
identical, in divergent lines of evolu- 
tion, 58, 63, 65, 66, 73, 78, 79, 81 
$3, 91, 92, 125 
Subject and attribute, 155 
Substance, albuminoid, 127 
continuity of living, 171 
organic, 127, 137, 147, 149, 157, 171, 
206-7, 260 note, 269, 281 
in Spinoza’a philosophy, 370 
ternary substances, 128 
Substantives, adjectives, verbs, correspond 




to the three classes of representation, 
Substitution essential to representation of 
the Nought, 297, 299, 305, 306, 310, 
Success of physics, 230, 231-2 
and superiority, 140, 279 
Succession in time, 10, 357, 
365. Cf. Juxtaposition 
Successors of Kant, 383, 384 
Sudden mutations, 29, 66, 68, 72 
Sun, 121, 254, 340 
Superaddition of existence upon nothing- 
ness, 291 
of order upon disorder, 249, 289 
Superimposition. See Measurement 
of qualities, in induction, 228 
Superiority, evolutionary, 140-42, 183, 
Superman, 281 
Supraconsciousness, 275 
Survival of the fit, 179. 
Swim, learning to, as instinctive learn- 
ing, 203, 204 
Symbol, the concept is a, 169, 221, 361 
of reality, xi, 32, 75, 94, 99, 205, 
SAE, 255 $63,481,390 
Symbolic knowledge of life, 209, 361, 380 
Symbolism, 185, 190, 381 
Sympathetic or intuitive knowledge, 
240, 22%, 361 
Sympathy, instinct is, 173, 177, 182-7, 
361-2. See Divination, Feeling, 
Systematic metaphysics, dilemma of, 
206, 207, 243 
contrasted with intuitional, 202, 204, 
251, 283, 234, 293, 366-7 
postulate of, 201, 206 
Systematization of physics, Leibniz’s 
philosophy, 367 
Systems, isolated, 9-13, 214, 226, 227, 
254, 255, 361, 366-8 

358, 360, 

See Natural 

Tangent and curve, analogy with deduc- 
tion and the moral sphere, 225 
analogy with physico-chemistry and 
life, 32 
Tarakevitch, 131 note 
Teleology. See Finalism 
Tendency, antagonistic tendencies of 
life, 14, 103, 109, 119, 142, 158 
antagonistic tendencies in development 
of nervous system, 131 
complementary tendencies of life, 54 
109, 142, 158, 177, 260 
to dissociation, 274 
divergent tendencies of life, §7, 94, 


104, 106, 113, 115, 118, 122-4, 
141, 142, 158, 191, 260, 268-72 
to individuation, 14 
life a tendency to act on inert matter, 
toward mobility in animals, 115, 116, 
119, 134, 136-9, 142, 191, 192 
the past exists in present tendency, 6 
to reproduce, 14 
of species to change, go-g1 
mathematical symbols of tendencies, 
23, *4 
toward systems, in matter, 11 
transmission of, 34-5 
a vital property is a, 14 
Tension and extension, 249, 258 
and freedom, 210-13, 219, 235, 250, 
252, 317-18 
matter the inversion of vital, 252 
of personality, 210, 212, 219, 250, 
252, 317 
Ternary substances, 128 
Theology consequent upon the phil- 
osophy of Ideas, 333 
Theoretic fallacies, 287, 288 
knowledge and instinct, 187, 282 
knowledge and intellect, 163, 187, 
189, 251, 285, 361, 362 
Theorizing not the original function of 
the intellect, 163-4 
Theory of knowledge, xiii, 187, 189, 195, 
208, 216, 219, 220, 241, 244 
of life, xiii, 187, 189, 208 
Thermodynamics, 255-6. See Conserva- 
tion of energy, Degradation of 
Thesis and antithesis, 217 
Thing as distinguished from motion, 196, 
213, 261, 262, 316 
as distinguished from relation, 155, 
156, 158, 160, 165, 168, 169, 197, 
213, 372) 377 
and mind, 217 
as solidification operated by under- 
standing, 262 
Thing-in-itself, 216, 217, 243, 329 
Timaeus, 335 “ote 
Time and the absolute, 253, 254, 314, 
358, 363 
abstract, 22, 23, 39-41 
articulations of real, 350-51 
as force, 17, 48, 49, 54, 108, 358 
homogeneous, 18, 19, 172, 350-51 
as independent variable, 21, 354-5 
interval of, 9, 23, 24 
as invention, 360-61 
in Leibniz’s philosophy, 372, ies 
and logic, 4, 292 
and simultaneity, 9, 355, 356, 360 


in modern science, 349-55, 361-4 
and space in Kant, 217 
and space in ancient philosophy, 335, 
336. See Duration 
Tools and intellect, 144-8, 158-9. See 
Torpor, in evolution, 115, 117, I19, 
120 note, 126, 135-43, 191, 308 
Tortoise, Achilles and the, in Zeno, 
327, 328 
Touch, science expresses all perception 
as touch, 177 
is to vision as intelligence to in- 
stinct, 178 
Track laid by motion along its course, 
326-9, 356 
Transcendental Aesthetic, 215 
Transformation, 34, 77, 78, 138, 243, 
Transformism, 24-6 
Transition, form a snapshot view of, 318, 
334, 335: 339, 364 
Transmissibility of acquired characters, 
80-89, 92, 178, 179, 182, 238, 243 
Transmission of the vital impetus, 27, 
28, 84, 90, 92, 93, 99, 116, 133, 
134, 243, 244, 259, 263, 264, 269, 
270, 273, 284 
Trigger-action of motor mechanisms, 
Triton, Regeneration in, 80 
Tropism and psychical activity, 37 mote 
Truth seized in intuition, 336-7 

Unconscious effort, 179 
instinct, 150, 1§1, 153, 154, 175 
knowledge, 153-5, 158-9 
Unconsciousness, two kinds of, 1§1 
Undefinable, reality, 14, 51 
Understanding, absoluteness of, 160, 201, 
208, 209, 210 
and action, ix, xi, 189 
genesis of the, Introd., 52, 200, 219, 
271-3, 379, 382 
and geometry, ix, xll 
and innateness of categories, 155, 
and intuition, 49 
and life, Introd., 14, 34, 49-52, 94, 
106, 155, 156, 160, 171-4, 183, 
$36, £57; 206-82, 225, 242, 235, 
236, 238, 271-3, 275, 280, 284, 
235, 330, 382, 386 
and inert matter, 174, 177, 189, 205, 
S05, 217, 248,231,375 
and the ready-made, xiv, 51, 250, 
263, 264, 288, 328, 339, 347, 374, 
and the solid, ix 

unlimited scope of the, 157, 158, 160 
See Intellect, Intelligence, Concept, 
Categories, Frames of the under- 
standing, Logic 
Undone, automatic and determinate 
evolution is action being, 262 
Unfolding cause, 77, 78 
Unforeseeableness of action, 50 
of duration, 6, 173, 359-61 
of evolution, 50, 51, 55, 91, 236 
of invention, 173 
of life, 173, 194 
and the willed order, 236, 362 
See Foreseeing 
Unification as the function of the intel- 
lect, 160, 162, 378 
Uniqueness of phases of duration, 173 
Unity of extension, 162 
of knowledge, 206 
of life, 112, 263, 282, 285 
of mental life, 282 
and multiplicity as determinations of 
space, 371-3 
of nature, 110, 200, 201, 206, 207, 
209, 340, 372, 377, 378 
of the organism, 186 
of science, 206, 207, 241, 242, 339, 
340 364, 367) 368: 3741 376, 380, 

Universal interaction, 198, 19g 
life, consciousness coextensive with, 
196, 271, 284 
Universe, continuity ot, 365 
Descartes’s, 365 
physical, and the idea of disorder, 246, 
duration of, 11, 12, 254 
evolution of, 254, 260 note 
growth of, 362, 364 
movement of, in Aristotle, 341 
mutability of, 257, 258 
as organism, 32, 254 
as realization of plan, 42 
rhythm of, 356, 358, 366 
states of, considered by science, 355, 
as unification of physics, 368, 377 
Unknowable, the, of evolutionism, xi 
the, in Kant,'225,.216,.217 
Unmaking, the nature of the process of 
materiality, 258, 261, 262, 264, 287, 
Unorganized bodies, 8, 15, 21, 22, 196. 
See inert matter 
instruments, 144-6, 148, 158-9 
matter, cleft between, and the or- 
ganized, 200, 201, 207, 208-9 
matter, imitation of the organized by, 

35-6, 37, 38 

1S Sa 


+ eee S 


a oe 


matter and science, 205-6 
matter. See inert matter 
Unwinding cause, 77 
of immutability in Greek philosophy, 
343, 372 
Upspringing of invention, 173 
Utility, 5, 158, 160, 163, 167, 168, 177, 
197, 206, 261, 314, 347-8 

Vanessa levana and Vanessa prorsa, 
transformation of, 76 
Variable, time as an independent, 21, 

Variation, accidental, 58, 67, 72, 90, 178 
of colour, in lizards, 76, 78 
by deviation, 87, 88 
of evolutionary type, 25, 77 note, 138, 
145, 176, 178, 181, 278 
insensible, 66, 72 
interest as cause of, 138 
in plants, go, g1 
Vegetable kingdom. See Plants 
Verb, relation expressed by, 155 
Verbs, substantives and adjectives, 319 
Verse and prose, in illustration of the 
two kinds of order, 233, 245 
Vertebrate, ix, 133, 136, 138-41, 149 
Vibrations, matter analysed into ele- 
mentary, 212 
Vice, consciousness compressed in a, 
icc bei paiens of intuitionism, 
202-4, 207 
of intellectualism, 204, 207, 336-7 
View, intellectual, of becoming, 4, 96, 
288, 315, 321, 322, 327, 344-5 
intellectual, of matter, 214, 253, 263, 
267, 269 
Vignon, P., 37 note 
Virtual actions, 13. 
geometry, 224 
Vision of God, in Alexandrian phil- 
osophy, 340 
in molluscs. See Eye of molluscs, etc. 
in Salamandra maculata, 80 
Vital activity, 141-3, 146, 147, 175- 
7, 259, 261 
current, 27, 28, 56-8, 85, 90, 92, 
93, 102-10, 125-6, 243, 244, 252, 
271, 280, 284 
impetus, 53, 56-8, 90, 92, 93, 103-10, 
125, 133, 134, 138, 149, 156, 157, 
230, 243, 244, 261; 263, 265, 268, 
order, cause in, 36, 37, 100, 173 
order, finality and, 236-7, 238 

See Possible action 


order, generalization in the, and in the 
mathematical order contrasted, 237, 
238, 243 
order, and the geometrical order, 235, 
237,238, 243, 244, 248, 249, 348-9 
order, imitation of physical order 
by vital, 243 
principle, 44, 45, 237, 238 
order, repetition in the vital and the 
mathematical orders contrasted, 237, 
_ 238, 243, 244 
Vitalism, 44, 45 
Void, representation of, 288, 290, 291, 
293, 297,299, 305, 306, 308, 310, 
, 314; 314 
Voisin, 85 
Volition and cerebral mechanism, 266 
Voluntary activity, 116, 265 
Vries (De), 11, 26, 66, 67 note, go-g1 

Wasps, instinct in, 147, 181 
Weapons and intellect, 144 
Weismann, 27, 83, 85-6 
Will and caprice, 50 
and cerebral mechanism, 266 
current of, penetrating matter, 250 
insertion of, into reality, 322-3 
and relaxation, 212, 219 
and mechanism in disorder, 246 
tension of, 210, 212, 219 
Willed order, mutual contingency of 
willed order and mathematical order, 
unforeseeability in the, 236, 262 
Willing, coincidence of seeing and, in 
intuition, 250 
Wilson, E.B., 37 
Wolff, 80 note 
Words and states, 4, 319 
three classes of, corresponding to 
three classes of representation, 319, 

World, intelligible, 169 
principle: consciousness, 250, 275 
Worms, in illustration of ambiguity of 
primitive organisms, 136 

Yellow-winged sphex, paralysing instinct 
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